The University of Otago is to investigate whether staff encouraged medical students to scam the system and holiday when they should have been studying.
Vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne confirmed today the university was launching a formal inquiry into how more than 50 final-year medical students used part of their three-month work placements as holidays in 2019.
The inquiry would broadly consider the administration of sixth year electives, particularly in 2019 but also in previous years, Prof Hayne said.
It would look for any evidence of inadequate elective attendance by trainee interns in the years leading up to 2019.
It would also look into the extent, if any, to which Otago staff were aware of or encouraged insufficient elective attendance, she said.
Rumours about fake placements emerged at the university's Christchurch campus in June 2019.
Soon after, Stuff reported some medical students chose medical centres in Belize, Bosnia and Italy where they could get their placement signed
off after a week or less.
The university then confirmed Eastern Europe was one of the destinations used in the travel rort.
An initial investigation found 15 students guilty of misconduct. A subsequent investigation found 53 students had undermined their work placements.
Late last year, Otago Medical School dean Barry Taylor said the situation was not likely to be restricted to the 2019 students or the Otago Medical School.
The university acknowledged its systems allowed the dishonesty to occur.
Prof Hayne said today the inquiry would look into the adequacy of steps taken by the Otago Medical School to tighten its procedures, and what further steps might be recommended in future elective management.
The inquiry will be chaired by Australian National University Chair Emeritus Professor Nicholas Glasgow. He will be joined by University of Otago department of anatomy Emeritus Professor Gareth Jones and faculty of law Professor Shelley Griffiths.
Submissions on the terms of reference for the inquiry were open until March 12.
The terms of reference for the inquiry were close to being finalised in March, but university operations have been disrupted by Covid-19.