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Half post-secondary students cheat yet only one per cent disciplined: survey

Michael Thomas
News Reporter

Most post-secondary students have heard about the repercussions of plagiarism, which can lead to being expelled from a school with a permanent blot on the student’s record. Yet the allure of plagiarism does not go away despite students being reminded year after year that it can strip away their future plans quite quickly.

Plagiarism is a growing problem among Canadian post-secondary students, according to a survey conducted by CBC.

Julia Christensen Hughes, Dean of the College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph, told CBC that the survey showed more than 50 per cent of students admit to different forms of cheating.

Out of 54 universities polled, 42 gave data showing that only one per cent of the students were disciplined in the years 2011 -12, according to the CBC study.

“If I have a suspected plagiarism paper, I have discussions with the student right away,” said Humber College nursing professor Jennie Miron.

“Profs are working with content that (they) love and it’s difficult, it affects relationships,” Miron said of the trust which is violated by plagiarism.

Miron said she understands that some students will unintentionally plagiarize because they don’t understand the rules and requirements of properly sourcing the material they use in assignments.

However, cases of intentional plagiarizing carry serious penalties.

“Penalties for plagiarism vary from completely failing a paper or having marks deducted,” Miron said.

Humber states that any act of plagiarism is a breach of academic honesty.

“I am not surprised that people shy away from it because it is a difficult subject,” Miron said.

“A student that is pressed for time should always have a talk with his or her prof about getting an extension,” she said. “Professors want students to succeed, but honestly.”

Kathy Ullyott, assistant program head of Media Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber, said she has encountered students cheating.

As an editor, Ullyott has also had writers sell the same story to more than one publication; this is not illegal but from an ethical stand point they are plagiarizing themselves and damaging their reputations.

Ullyott said plagiarizing is a career ender in her line of work and does not recommend students to cheat.

Business professor Patricia Peel of the University of Guelph-Humber said, “Some students see school as a place where they are in a competition for marks instead of learning.”

Peel said that statistics show Business students are more likely to commit plagiarism and that Guelph-Humber spends a lot on software to catch cheaters, naming one program called Turnitin.com as a major source of detecting these academic crooks.

Peel has made it her mission to catch students cheating. She said she once caught 18 students cheating on a single midterm.

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