Identity theft and collusion to cheat the peer review system


Universities and colleges have faced a number of cases of identity theft during online exams and collusion between students trying to cheat the system, with the switch to the internet during the pandemic.

Details of third-level institutions, released under Freedom of Information, show a high number of cases of alleged plagiarism as well as cases of collusion during online reviews and even identity theft.

At IT Sligo, there were four cases in the 2019/20 academic year and three more in the year before the start of the pandemic, with six more in 2020/21, three of which were personified during the pandemic. ‘online exams, in which the “person other than the student has completed part of the exam”.

This resulted in two cases of failure and one-year suspension, and two further cases of failure and catch-up.

According to the college: “Online exams for students [in those four cases] were online exams where the student was not supervised / supervised. This is a type of exam that had not been used before the pandemic. “

No disciplinary issues were raised as a result of the online proctored exams in August 2020, January 2021, June 2021 or August 2021 and a spokesperson added that “the number of investigations was in line with expected numbers.

“During this period, the Office of the Registrar handled 13 cases, which involved a violation of the exam rules. As there were no on-site exams in the examination rooms due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the only cases reported here are those where a disciplinary committee has been convened to rule on their case. “

At the Technological University of Munster, 34 cases of plagiarism were noted last year in Cork, with sanctions ranging from a letter of warning to the temporary suspension of studies. This year, by mid-October, there had been 27 cases of plagiarism, with another 20 in Kerry. Of these, 19 cases had a negatively affected outcome and one outcome was unaffected.

Shannon University of Technology: Midlands Midwest, Athlone, has seen 100 incidents of suspected cheating, 87 of which have been confirmed, all after the start of the pandemic.

82 of those confirmed involved plagiarism, with the small number of remaining cases involving three cases of cheating, one of false statements and another.

Dublin City University has had 55 student disciplinary cases over the same period, with 32 confirmed and none to respond in 23. The university said 29 incidents involved allegations of plagiarism, with 23 violations of law. examination and three non-academic incidents where a student was sanctioned. Two students were expelled.

A spokesperson said: “In cases of plagiarism, penalties range from zeroed modules, to repeated ongoing assessments, and additional work to be completed, ongoing trials or assessments, as well as penalties of up to ‘to expulsion from the university.

“In the event of non-compliance with the exams, the sanctions range from modules or exams set to zero to repeating exams and modules, depending on the seriousness of the case, up to and including expulsion from university. “

The Waterford Institute of Technology has had four cases, two of which resulted in suspension of students, while the RCSI [Royal College of Surgeons Ireland] said: “As of March 2020, there have been seven incidents related to allegations of cheating in online exams / assessments. This represents 0.02% of the total online reviews taken. “

A spokesperson for Maynooth University said: “Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 11 investigations into allegations of cheating in exams / assessments within Maynooth University. more details would potentially identify those affected. “

At the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, four allegations of cheating have been made, two since the start of the pandemic. Three students were excluded for one year, one was excluded for two years.

At the Dundalk Insitute of Technology, there was a plagiarism incident involving a student in June 2020 and there was a plagiarism incident involving six students in May 2021, with all students having their continuous assessment reset, alongside their exam, with the possibility of repeating at the 2021/2022 summer exam session.


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