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Academic misconduct - CS022302

A postgraduate student was suspected of plagiarism and poor academic practice in two essays submitted in the previous academic year.

At a disciplinary panel, the student said that they had been unwell at the time of submission and had submitted draft versions by mistake. The student was asked to produce the versions of the essays which they meant to submit. The student produced two drafts, but it became clear that these had been altered after the suspected academic misconduct had come to light.  The student said they thought they would be allowed to submit new versions, and so had deleted the earlier files.

The panel decided that the student had plagiarised the essays and expressed concern that the student had presented work that had been changed after the submission deadline, as if it were an earlier document. The student received a mark of zero for both assessments and was withdrawn from the course.

The student appealed the panel’s decision on the grounds that ill health had affected their ability to make decisions at the time of submitting the essays. The provider rejected the appeal because of the extent of the plagiarism and because the student had not been able to produce the work that they said they meant to submit in its original form.

The student complained to us.

We partly upheld the student’s complaint (we decided that it was Partly Justified).

We concluded that it was reasonable for the provider to decide that the student had plagiarised the essays, and that the penalty imposed was reasonable. But we were concerned that the whole process took too long to complete (13 months), which meant that the student was enrolled for another year, unnecessarily incurring additional fees. The student obtained some benefit from the additional year, but could not achieve the qualification for which they had been studying.

We recommended that the provider should offer the student an apology and compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused by significant delays. We also recommended that the provider refund a proportion of the student’s tuition fees.