Nearly one in 100 St Andrews students was found guilty of plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct in each of the past four academic years, The Saint can reveal.
This was the second highest percentage out of six universities that responded to Freedom of Information requests from The Saint.
A University spokesman said: “We don’t believe that academic misconduct is any more prevalent at St Andrews than at other leading universities, it remains a very small problem involving a tiny proportion of our students.
“It is clear that universities use different methods to detect and record instances of misconduct and we do not believe the proportions cited by The Saint are directly or fairly comparable — that is self evident from the wide variation in figures reported.”
The spokesman added that the University is currently updating its policy on academic misconduct and is looking into “taking a more energetic approach to educating students about academic integrity before they have a chance to commit academic misconduct”. He said the University has been trialling new-anti plagiarism software, Turnitin, in the departments of Music and Biology.
“We are happy with the results of those trials because we think students benefited from them, and we hope to do more in this line in future,” he said.
Turnitin is used by many other universities and schools worldwide.
In the last two years, 77 St Andrews students were found guilty of academic misconduct in 2011-12 and 74 in 2010-11, nearly 1% of the total student population. The trend appears to be stable since 2008-09.
The universities of Edinburgh and Nottingham (student populations of around 30,000 each), averaged less than 0.5% of students who had committed academic misconduct in the past two years. Cambridge (19,000 students) and Durham Universities (14,000 students), reported percentages well below 0.1%. Exeter (around 18,000 students) was the only university who responded with a higher percentage at around 1.5% for the last two academic years.
The proportion of students expelled for academic misconduct varies. This may suggest that universities use different criteria to categorise misconduct. Since 2007, St Andrews has expelled eight of the 345 students found guilty. Durham expelled a much higher proportion, 13 from a total of 30 students found guilty in the last 5 years, while Edinburgh did not expel any.