The growth of plagiarism among university students has been recognised as a problem over the past few years and lecturers have been fighting back with increasingly sophisticated software. Systems like Turnitin can scan billions of pages available on the internet and databases of journal articles and periodicals to enable tutors to spot students who cut and paste their essays from the internet.
Examiners now feel the problem has spread to schools where pupils - and at times their parents - are copying material from the internet without acknowledging their sources. There has also been a rise in "cheat" sites selling essays and coursework - with a disclaimer saying they must not be passed off as the student's own work - on which the government and trading standards authorities have been unable to crack down. Northumbria Learning, a spin-off company of Northumbria University which has pioneered approaches to plagiarism, says students copy material because they want a better mark or because they manage their time badly and have to rush to meet a coursework deadline.
Students think there is little risk of being caught. As a report by the Joint Council for Qualifications last year concluded: "Candidates plagiarise the work of others because they think their production of coursework during the course will not be monitored. More than one in seven students had submitted a paper largely obtained from a website or a "paper mill" selling essays.
But Northumbria Learning says students do not always realise they have to cite sources when quoting, and universities complain this is not taught in schools and they have to educate first-year students in proper procedures. Chuka Ummuna. Shappi Khorsandi.
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