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Law faculty clamps down on cheating

Photo: Reyer Boxem

Two students were caught five times

Law faculty clamps down on cheating

Two law students have had all marks from their online exams invalidated after they were caught cheating on five different exams. They are also banned from taking any online tests for the rest of the year.
20 October om 13:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
October 20 at 13:23 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

Door René Hoogschagen

20 October om 13:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

October 20 at 13:23 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

René Hoogschagen

Freelancejournalist
Volledig bio

Freelance journalist
Full bio

During the exams, which took place in the last block before the summer, the students communicated over Facebook chat, says exam committee chair Frank Verstijlen.

They’re not the only ones who cheated: the exam committee received more than sixty reports of possible cheating during the previous academic year. Verstijlen says this is a lot more than the year before. Most of the reports concerned the last exam period.

Approximately fifty cases of cheating have been confirmed. Some students have appealed their judgements.

Voided

These students will also have their marks voided, although only for the exams they were caught cheating on.

They will also be excluded from future online exams, albeit not as long as the two big fraudsters. In almost all cases, the cheating student will no longer be able to graduate with honours.

Cheating is a serious offence, the faculty wrote in a message to all students. ‘Especially for students of law, who are being trained to serve the law.’

Moral appeal

Last year, the law faculty decided to postpone the third block exams and move them to the fourth block because of the impact of the corona crisis. This would allow the faculty to adjust to administering online exams and anticipate any potential cheating.

In the end, the faculty decided to change all courses with more than seventy-five students to open-book exams. Berend Wezeman, who was dean at the time, said the questions would concern ‘cases that required some thinking’, rather than just easy facts students could look up. Smaller courses were poised to switch to oral exams or essays.

The faculty board also issued a moral appeal to students by having them sign a pledge to not cheat. ‘We decided to trust our students’, Wezeman said. He did also issue a warning: ‘If you violate our trust, we will not hesitate to take action.’

Cancel exams

Students also have to sign a pledge for the first exam period of this year. The exam committee has sent out an email, warning students that anyone who cheats exposes their fellow students to the risk of online exams being cancelled altogether.

Since in-person exams will be impossible for the foreseeable future, this could mean all exams will be postponed indefinitely, or the university could start using controversial proctoring software during online exams.

It would allow examiners to keep an eye on students during online exams. Verstijlen says this is an option. ‘But we’d prefer not to.’

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