University of Glasgow mulls turning away from Turnitin

Scottish university signs up with rival plagiarism detection service after complaining about ‘operational difficulties’

September 2, 2015
Exam cheating, woman writing notes on arm

A Russell Group university is considering cancelling its Turnitin licence owing to long-running “operational difficulties” with the plagiarism detection service.

California-based Turnitin counts 98 per cent of the UK’s higher education institutions among its subscribers, but the University of Glasgow is the first in the country to sign up with Urkund, a Swedish rival.

At the moment the university is using both systems, but Times Higher Education understands that Glasgow will cut its ties with Turnitin if the Urkund trial proves successful.

Urkund says that it is discussing prices with a further three UK universities, and that about half a dozen are currently trialling its product.

A spokesman for Glasgow said the potential switch reflected concerns about the performance of Turnitin, which THE reported on last year.

“We have experienced some operational difficulties with Turnitin over the last few years and so we have been looking at alternatives,” the spokesman said. “We have undertaken a very limited but successful pilot with Urkund and are now moving to a larger-scale evaluation exercise while, at the same time, ensuring continuity of academic activity through retaining Turnitin.

“The outcomes of this exercise will have a significant bearing on our future strategy on plagiarism detection.”

Most of Urkund’s clients are in Scandinavia, but in July the company was chosen to supply plagiarism detection to India’s public universities.

Andreas Ohlson, chief executive of Urkund’s holding company, Prio Infocenter, said he hoped that Glasgow’s decision “will influence other universities in the UK, many of which are already in discussions with us”.

Last year’s THE article quoted concerns raised by a number of university employees on a Turnitin discussion forum about increases in subscription charges of up to 31 per cent year-on-year, and about outages in service.

In response to those complaints, a Turnitin spokesman said that use of its service was at an all-time high, with a 400 per cent increase in submissions in the past five years and more staff and students using the service.

Many institutions had received “substantial initial discounts”, he added, which explained why some were seeing large percentage increases.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Related universities

Reader's comments (1)

The rising number of Turnitin submissions might just be linked to improved virtual learning environment integrations and thus the lowering of the barrier to usage. It's not necessarily due to the strength of the product itself. OR - if you make water closer to horses, they probably drink more (but it doesn't mean you've improved the taste). Alternative suppliers in this _market_ is a good thing.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry