Swedish academics gaining ground on student plagiarists

June 18, 2004

Sweden is catching student cheats in increasing numbers, according to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education.

Its annual report reveals a 116 per cent rise in the numbers being disciplined over the past two years. Many cases involved plagiarising sources from the internet.

The report stresses that the figures do not necessarily point to an increase in cheating, although this cannot be ruled out.

Academics are more adept than before at spotting cheats. "I regularly Google students' work nowadays," admitted Margret Benedikz, a lecturer at Stockholm University mentioned in the report.

Last spring, one of Dr Benedikz's second-year students lost her credits after she was found to have plagiarised an essay from the net. Like many others, student "K" claimed that she was short of time and overloaded with work, so she turned to the net to complete an assignment. She argued that she had rephrased source material in her own words. The university, however, adjudged her work to be "practically identical" to the source text. She was excluded from the university for two months.

Swedish universities say they clearly tell students what constitutes cheating and make them aware that they risk losing credits, student loans or even their degree if caught.

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