Stolen identities, faked signatures and covert recording equipment: these are just some of the ways desperate students in Cardiff have been trying to boost their university grades by cheating in exams and coursework.
And the number of cases of cheating seems to have soared this academic year, even though it is only half way through.
Cardiff University has recorded 268 counts of plagiarism for the 2014-15 academic year so far, before summer examinations and January coursework results have even hit. Last year, 282 cases were reported at the Russell Group institution, mostly of plagiarism.
Cardiff Metropolitan University recorded 259 of cheating for the current academic year. In the years 2011-12, 957 cases were reported and dealt with according to university regulations.
137 Undergraduates had been found to have broken exam conditions, while 130 post graduates had also fallen foul of the rules.
Remarkably, more than half of students receive little more than a slap on the wrists, with only formal warnings as punishment.
Only one case of cheating, a postgraduate student who submitted plagiarised work, resulted in the cancellation of the student’s marks in all of the modules/units for the particular year of study.
The most common method of cheating was plagiarism, with 173 counts recorded. Possession of unlawful material and collusion was second most likely way in which students woiuld be cased cheating.
75 incidents of cheating took place in exams, with 146 counts of cheating recorded in course modules and dissertation work.
Between the years 2010-12 more than 45,000 students at 80 institutions have been hauled before college authorities and found guilty of “academic misconduct” ranging from bringing crib-sheets or mobile phones into exams to paying private firms to write essays for them.
University bosses blame the financial crisis for raising the stakes in higher education, making many students willing to do anything to secure good grades – or just to stay on their degree courses.
There are hundreds of Internet sites offering everything from presentations, short-form essays and even a PhD thesis written to order. Some are based in the UK while many exist only online.
Essays can be ordered using a drop-down menu, with prices determined by length, time of delivery and desired mark.
More recently, the City of London university has banned smart watches over fears students may use them in exams to gain an unfair advantage.
Some reported cases of cheating at Universities:
* Three cases categorised as “impersonation” by Derby University and three at Coventry, along with 10 “uses of unauthorised technology”
* Kent University reported at least one case where a student attempted to “influence a teacher or examiner improperly”.
* At the University of East Anglia students submitted pieces of work which contained identical errors, while others completed reports which were “almost identical to that of another student”, a spokesman said, while one was caught copying sections from the Wikipedia website.
* A student sitting an exam at the University of the West of Scotland was caught with notes stored in an MP3 player.
* A Bradford University undergraduate completed work at home, smuggled it into an examination then claimed it had been written during the test.
* The University of Central Lancashire, at Preston, reported students had been caught using a “listening and/or communications device” during examinations.
* Keele undergraduates sitting exams were found to have concealed notes in the lavatory, stored on a mobile telephone and written on tissues while two students were found guilty of “falsifying a mentor’s signature on practice assessment documents to gain academic benefit”.