Disciplinary issues at universities and higher education institutions
This is a summary in English. The report is available only in Swedish.
The Government has assigned the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education to survey and analyse ways in which Swedish universities and other higher education institutions try to detect and prevent misdemeanours that may result in disciplinary measures specified in Chapter 10 of the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100). The aim of this survey and analysis was primarily to focus on misdemeanours in which students attempt to employ non-permissible aids or other means to mislead examiners or in other forms of assessment of study achievements — i.e. cheating. On the basis of this analysis, the Agency was to present proposals and recommendations which were considered to be required to reduce the incidence of such phenomena.
As a result of this assignment, the National Agency has asked all public-sector universities and other higher education institutions to submit details of all disciplinary measures determined during 2010, to report the ways in which higher education institutions endeavour to discover and prevent misdemeanours that may lead to disciplinary measures, to consider whether the provisions of Chapter 10 in the Higher Education Ordinance need to be changed, and to respond to the question of whether it is considered that they require assistance in their efforts to reduce the incidence of cheating.
The report presents the current regulatory structure and the way in which the National Agency has previously drawn attention to the question of disciplinary measures. The report also reviews the disciplinary issues that occurred in 2010, in which 750 students were subject to disciplinary measures - an increase of 48 per cent compared with 2009 — and where the most likely reason was plagiarism.
The major part of the report consists of accounts by the various higher education institutions of the ways in which they detect and prevent disciplinary incidents. Virtually all these institutions mention information, education, examination processes, the use of plagiarism tools and the disciplinary board´s procedures as ways of dealing with this problem. The report indicates that all these measures are being developed in terms of scope and intensity — for example more institutions have acquired tools to check plagiarism, and that such tools have been employed to a greater extent. There are several examples of ways in which institutions have been inspired by each other´s example. The National Agency´s report considers that cooperation between institutions may help to combat cheating, and that this description of the measures applied by all institutions of higher education to deal with this problem may help.
According to the majority of higher education institutions, preventive measures are the key factor in endeavours to stop cheating, although they consider that several measures must be combined to reduce the incidence of this phenomenon and that it is difficult to pinpoint any specific measure. Nonetheless, virtually all the institutions have stated that the key measures are the educational process and, in this context, a focus on training in the way scholarly texts are to be presented and how references and sources are to be handled in a correct manner. The design of examination formats and assignments, and clear instructions prior to examinations, are also mentioned as decisive factors in reducing cheating. There is also an emphasis on education, information and preventive measures, rather than sanctions. The National Agency has noted that the opinions of the various higher education institutions as regards the most crucial measures do not differ significantly.
In terms of the way in which cheating is to be reduced, this is regarded in the main as an educational problem, and the majority of the higher education stations concerned do not consider that the disciplinary provisions in the Higher Educational Ordinance need to be amended. As a result, the National Agency for Higher Education considers that there is no need to modify the current disciplinary regulations.
In view of the fact that several higher education institutions have indicated that national conferences on disciplinary measures are a good way of contributing to a national consensus as regards cheating, the National Agency will be announcing a conference of this nature during 2012. A number of institutions have also expressed their appreciation of the National Agency´s annual reports on disciplinary measures at Universities and higher education institutions. In this context, the Agency has stated that it intends to continue and develop this aspect - for example by reporting relevant administrative court decisions. The Agency also hopes that this report of the views of higher education institutions will, per se, provide support for such institutions and facilitate coordination and consensus.