`Cheating on Net' inquiry at university

AT THE end of their first year at Edinburgh University, students were meant to demonstrate their understanding of computers. But not, as some apparently did, by using e-mail and the Internet to produce identical work.

Sadly for the class of "Computer Science 1h", they appear to have proved themselves too adept with their keyboards. At least 90 of 200 students in the class had their grades withheld after exam markers discovered remarkable similarities between their scripts.

"They seem to have been chatting about what they would write," said one university insider. "Unfortunately, it wasn't over coffee. It was using websites, so everyone seems to have come up with the same answer."

Nor was it difficult to find that answer. One website "chat" page offers "a completed Practical 3 program for Computer Science 1h", which can be obtained by e-mail. The author of the crib sheet warns readers, however, that "it's too risky to put on the Web. Remember, don't copy it exactly - only use it as a guide! Power to the people!"

What seems to have happened is that too few took the advice and the examiners caught on. University examination boards know it is all too easy now for students to fake knowledge. No longer do you have to ply your contemporaries with drink or plead hard luck tales of having writer's block or a nervous breakdown.

The market has produced the answer to the idle student's dilemma. Many companies now sell help in cutting corners for tutorials and at exam time.

Cyberessays.com has a free database with thousands of essays that can be used again and again to fob off unsuspecting tutors. The bank is constantly refreshed as hardworking students show solidarity with their slacking peers by posting new essays on the site.

Another site - called 12000papers.com - will use its vast stock of material to write an essay specially customised for you and then fax, e-mail or hand deliver it, depending on the urgency of the situation. A dozen people are employed full-time to meet the demand.

Yesterday, Edinburgh University was remaining po-faced over the class that apparently used a little too much initiative in what a spokesman called its "problem-solving tasks".

"Queries were raised by the examiners in relation to 90 students in the first year of computing science," said the spokesman. "Marks for those students have been withheld until this matter is resolved.

"All the students have been contacted so the examiners can reach a final decision. If the queries are substantiated the the appropriate action will be taken."

That action may be rustication for the students involved. But for the rest of the university population this outbreak of computer cribbing could lead to a shift from continuous assessement and all the temptations that offers. It could, one Edinburgh academic said, mean a return to the great fear of the idle student - more invigilated exams.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific