Plagiarism in St Andrews: the numbers don’t lie


plagiarism pic

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.


  1. I thought that plagiarism was grounds for automatic expulsion. That sort of thing really shouldn’t be tolerated. Any idea why the cheating students were spared? It makes the rest of us look bad.

  2. Isn’t it a little ironic that this is your cover story when the entire print run of The Saint has had to be destroyed for breach of copyright?

  3. @Some Chump : There are different levels and kinds of academic misconduct / plagiarism. Surely you wouldn’t expect the University to expel somebody for not referencing properly or submitting their own previously submitted work for another assignment.


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