Caution urged over old exam answers

By Vaughan Elder

Some students had been caught and disciplined for passing off, as their own, work bought online. Photo / Thinkstock
Some students had been caught and disciplined for passing off, as their own, work bought online. Photo / Thinkstock

The University of Otago is warning students of the risks of buying essays and answers to previous exams online.

Cheating at universities has come under the spotlight as authorities investigate a ghost-writing service for Chinese students.

This comes after the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) was tipped off about a company called Assignment4U, which reportedly used a network of tutors to write assignments for Chinese-speaking students at New Zealand tertiary institutions.

NZQA initially halted an investigation into the website for lack of evidence, but resumed it following a report on Sunday, which brought to light new information.

A search of the Assignment4U website found no evidence it was offering services to Otago students. The Otago Polytechnic and Otago University sections of the site were empty.

However, Otago University academic and international pro-vice-chancellor Prof Vernon Squire said the university was aware of sites where its students could buy and sell old essay and exam answers and examples of assignments for "reference" purposes.

Some students had been caught and disciplined for passing off, as their own, work bought online.

Prof Squire warned students of the dangers of using such sites - even if just to help with study or exam preparation.

"There are no guarantees as to the quality or currency of any material they might purchase or access. Moreover, users of such sites, both the suppliers and the users, may be in danger of breaching copyright law and could face the risk of action by the copyright holders of the material being procured."

Prof Squire warned people thinking about using such websites to cheat that the university had "strong policies" in place to deal with plagiarism.

"As well as automated plagiarism monitoring, any irregularities in regard to the performance of an individual student would be detected by lecturers or tutors and would be the subject of further scrutiny," he said.

A disciplinary report released by the university earlier this year showed 45 students were dealt with for cheating and other dishonest practices last year.

- Otago Daily Times

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