Survey of decisions and adjudications on disciplinary issues concerning students in higher education for 2002
A survey of decisions and adjudications shows that 162 students were subject to disciplinary measures in 2002. This is an increase of 28 per cent over 2001. Of these 162 students, 110 were suspended and admonitions issued to 52. Compared to 2001 the number of suspensions has risen by 37.5 per cent and the number of admonitions by 11 per cent. The most frequents grounds for the invocation of disciplinary measures were plagiarism and falsification.
Cheating is the most frequent reason for disciplinary measuresOf the students who were subject to disciplinary measures, 141 had cheated in some way when their attainment was being assessed, 17 had disturbed teaching or other activities and 4 had subjected other students to the kind of harassment laid down in Section 4 of the Equal Treatment of Students in Higher Education Act (2001:1286). In cases involving cheating, 97 students were suspended and 44 admonished. Among those who had disturbed teaching or other activities 12 were suspended and admonitions issued to 5. Two students were suspended for subjecting another student to harassment and two were admonished.There are several different ways in which students can cheat when their attainment is being assessed. We have chosen to divide these cases into four separate categories:
- Cribs and illicit aids. This kind of cheating led to the invocation of disciplinary measures against 39 students, 28 of them were suspended and admonitions issued to 11.
- Illicit collaboration. 22 students were subject to disciplinary measures, 15 of them suspended and admonitions issued to 7.
- Plagiarism and falsification. Disciplinary measures were invoked against 75 students, of whom 49 were suspended and 26 admonished.
- Students who alter the marks awarded for an examination. 5 students were subject to disciplinary measures, of whom all were suspended.
Students can also disturb teaching or other forms of activity in more than one way. We have therefore divided these cases into three different categories:
- Threatening behaviour. Disciplinary measures were invoked against 6 students on this account, 3 were suspended and admonitions issued to 3.
- Computer trespass. 5 students were subject to disciplinary measures for this offence, 3 were suspended and 2 admonished.
- Other forms of disturbing behaviour. Disciplinary measures were invoked against 6 students, 5 of them were suspended and 1 received an admonition.
Major differences in the numbers of cases at higher education institutionsIn relation to the total number of students in higher education in Sweden the proportion subjected to disciplinary measures is not particularly great. What is remarkable, however, is that there are marked differences between the numbers of cases at various institutions, even between those with roughly equivalent student populations. This inevitably raises the question of whether there is greater vigilance and awareness of various forms of cheating at some institutions than at others. A large number of cases at one specific institution does not necessarily mean that more cheating takes place there than elsewhere, but is rather evidence that its control mechanisms are more effective than those of other institutions.
New students must be informed about the regulations that applyIt is not possible to ascertain from the decisions how large a proportion of those who have been subject to disciplinary measures came straight from the upper-secondary school. There may, however, be good reason for the institutions to stress, and in particular to entrants coming directly from the school system, the gravity of various forms of cheating and its consequences for individual students in the form of withdrawal of study assistance and delayed completion of their study programmes. Corresponding information should also be given students arriving from abroad.
Search engines can disclose cheatingThe Internet has increased the possibilities of cheating. At the same time, the higher education institutions now have more opportunity to discover cases of plagiarism, for instance by using the various search engines that are available.
Penalties should not depend on the institutionThe penalties incurred by students should not be dependent on the institution at which they are studying. The National Agency for Higher Education therefore hopes that this survey, like last year´s, will make it easier to standardise practice concerning these measures at the higher education institutions in Sweden.
Annual surveyIn 2002 the National Agency for Higher Education produced a survey of the decisions of the disciplinary boards and adjudications on disciplinary issues either reached or issued in 2001. In this context the Agency announced that a similar survey would be published every year.In October 2002, the National Agency arranged a conference at which members of disciplinary boards were among those invited to discuss problems in applying the regulations and any changes that may be required.