Guidelines for dealing with cheating and attempt at cheating in connection with an examination at OsloMet
Approved by the University College Director 14 February 2013 in accordance with Regulations of 1 August 2012 relating to Studies and Examinations at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, § 7-5, subsection five.
1. General regulations
1.1 Scope and extent
These guidelines apply to all subjects/courses at the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels, the 1-year programme in Educational Theory and Practice, and further education programmes at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA). The guidelines also apply to any element of the PhD programmes concluded by an examination, cf. Regulations relating to the PhD Degree at HiOA, § 4-3.
The guidelines apply to both compulsory coursework requirements and study requirements, in addition to written examinations with invigilation and written examinations without invigilation (written assignments, home examinations etc.).The guidelines apply to all students and external candidates.
In relation to cheating/attempt at cheating, the term “examination” includes obligatory coursework requirements/study requirements or preliminary examinations forming the basis for the examination, the examination itself, and the final examination results, cf. Act relating to Universities and University Colleges § 4-7, subsection one, letter b.
1.2 The role of the Appeals Committee
The Board of Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences has from 1 September 2011 delegated the authority of decision-making in cases of cheating/attempt at cheating to the Appeals Committee, in accordance with the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges §§ 4-7, subsection one, letter b and 4-8, subsection three. The processing of cases related to suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating shall normally be based on written presentation of all relevant documents. The proceedings in the Appeals Committee are conducted in Norwegian.
If suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating arises, the case should be investigated and presented to the Appeals Committee, who will make a decision. Until the case has been processed by the Appeals Committee, it is to be regarded as suspicion under investigation. Cases of cheating carry severe consequences for the students. It is therefore particularly important that the procedures are followed meticulously at all stages.
1.3 Students' Rights
In cases related to cheating, it is the University College that has the burden of proof. It is important to ensure proper documentation throughout the whole process and ensure that the right of audi alteram partem is guaranteed.
When suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating has been justified, the Faculty shall inform the student as soon as possible that a case of suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating is being prepared, summon a meeting and give the student an opportunity to express his/her opinion, cf. § 16 of the Public Administration Act.
In accordance with § 12, subsection one of the Public Administration Act, the student is entitled to choose to be represented by a lawyer or another authorised representative at all stages of the proceedings. When the student has informed the University College of who he/she has chosen as his/her representative, all further contact shall take place through the representative.
The student has a right to state his/her opinion in writing and shall have the opportunity to express his/her opinion on the presented documents and on relevant new information, cf. The Public Administration Act, §§ 17 and 18.
The student and the authorised representative have a right to access information related to the case in accordance with §§ 18 – 20 of the Public Administration Act. The right of access to the case normally only applies to the factual basis for the case, such as the student’s own tests, descriptions of the course of events and reports from examiners/examination invigilators.
The student is entitled to have his/her costs covered by the institution from the time a case of suspension has been initiated, cf. § 4-8, subsection five of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. The case is considered initiated when it is sent from Section for Analysis and Quality of Education to the Appeals Committee at HiOA.
The student is entitled to have his/her costs for legal advice covered according to a publicly set rate for legal fees and in accordance with the terms stipulated in the Legal Fees Regulations (“Salærforskriften”).
2. Information – the institution’s and the student’s obligations
Before the examination takes place, the student shall have access to information on what examination support materials he/she is allowed to use during the examination. Students shall also be offered instruction in and have access to information on rules on quoting and the use of references, in addition to other circumstances relevant for the individual examination. The information shall be explicit and in an easily accessible form and be written/accessible on the internet.
The information shall also include a specification of the boundaries for cooperation on individual assignments in connection with home examinations, portfolio examinations etc., and that the consequences might be suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating if the boundaries are drawn too far and leads to answer papers being too similar.
Provisions related to the form of assessment and implementation of each individual course shall also be described in the programme- and course descriptions.
During examinations and tests, high requirements of due diligence are set. The individual student is obliged to make himself/herself familiar with applicable rules and information/instructions given in connection with the individual examination. Students, who do not do so, are not exempt from responsibility.
3. What is cheating?
Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences takes a serious view on cheating. Cheating/attempt at cheating is both disloyal towards fellow students and a breach of confidence towards the University College. The University College educates students for professions where honesty and reliability is required. This should also be reflected in the relationship between the University College and the students.
Cheating or attempt at cheating in connection with an examination or test may include:
- Being in possession of examination support materials that are not permitted during an examination
- Presenting someone else’s work as one’s own.
- Quoting sources, including your own previous work or in any other way using sources in written assignments without sufficient references to the source
- Presenting fictional or fictitious data and observations etc.
- Unauthorized cooperation between individual examination candidates or groups of examination candidates.
- Breaching the current regulations and guidelines for the examination in question.
cf. Regulations relating to Studies and Examinations at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences § 7-5 on Cheating.
3.1 Forms of examination and testing
At Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, the following forms of examinations and tests are used:
- Written examination with invigilation
- Oral examination
- Written home examination, individual or in groups
- Written home examination in courses selected by the students (bachelor’s, master’s and PhD theses, specialization assignments, projects assignments, semester assignments)
- Submission of written study or coursework requirements
- Portfolio examination
- Practical tests
- Presentation of completed assignments/works.
The forms of assessment are partly traditional one-day examinations with invigilation, and partly submission of assignments such as project work, portfolio examinations, home examinations etc. that are carried out during a couple of days or weeks up until several months.
3.2 Examples of what may be regarded as cheating/attempt at cheating
A. Written examination with invigilation
In connection with a written examination with invigilation, the permitted support materials shall be stated on the question paper. Support materials that are not included on the question paper are not permitted. It is sufficient that the support materials are available during the examination – whether the student has actually used /tried to use the support materials or not is not conclusive.
Examples of support materials that are not permitted:
- Sheets of paper and notes with content relevant to the syllabus ("cheat sheet")
- Inserted text/sheets of paper (written or pasted) or other incorporation of academic interest in permitted support materials such as dictionaries, code of laws etc.
- Draft sheets /examination sheets containing prewritten text
- Textbooks or other relevant books that are not stated as permitted support materials
- Academic reference books or encyclopaedia including more information than an ordinary dictionary
- Calculators of a different type than the one(s) permitted
- Electronic support materials and mobile phones.
The student is obliged to make himself/herself familiar with permitted examination support materials applicable to the individual examination. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that he/she only brings permitted support materials to the designated place on the examination premises. Examination invigilators will not be responsible for checking the support materials on the premises on behalf of students. Candidates with support materials that are not permitted will be reported and suspicion of cheating arises.
Cheating/attempt at cheating also includes keeping support materials that are not permitted available during the examination in places outside the actual examination premises e.g. toilets, or communication with fellow students or others outside the examination premises during the examination.
In connection with examinations where students may use computers, a particular diligence is required of the students. It is also particularly important that students follow the instructions they receive in connection with the examinations.
B. Written home assignments and portfolios etc. – bachelor’s- and master’s theses and other larger assignments
Cheating in connection with larger assignments and home examinations/portfolios may for instance include:
- Reproduction of material taken from textbooks, other academically relevant books, journals, assignments written by the student or others etc. that are presented without any references to the source or without clear indication of these being reproductions/quotations
- Paper or text taken from the Internet and presented as the student’s own
- Paper used by the student at a previous examination
- Paper used by someone else at a previous examination
- Paper prepared by someone else for the student
- Paper based on false or incorrect data, or observations and fictitious data presented as true
- Submitted work of practical or artistic nature produced by someone else
- Cooperation leading to an answer paper where the essential parts are similar to another answer paper at the same examination and the examination requires individual answer papers.
It is very important that the students know how to act to ensure that they are not accused of cheating/attempt at cheating out of turn. Still, there will be some grey area-cases where it will be necessary to distinguish between what is to be regarded as cheating/attempt at cheating or an academically immature, weak or dependent answer paper. However, the decisions and practice of the Appeals Committee have for some years contributed to the grey area becoming smaller and the rules clearer. Poor source referencing cannot automatically be regarded as cheating. To avoid differentiated treatment it is important that judgment and norms are developed. The following criteria may be used as a basis for the assessment of how serious the act is regarded: the scope and the way it is executed, the scope of the assignment and the consequences it will have, the academic year or level of the student and the information/instruction the student has received.
In cases not considered serious enough to be sent to the Appeals Committee, the student shall receive information on the lack of source referencing and be given a written or a spoken warning. Such cases may for instance be when a source is specified in the reference list, but whenever the source is used in the text itself, there is a poor use of quotation marks in connection with direct quotations and/or lack of references to the source. If the extent is limited and it is very probable that the student has done his/her best and has not tried to hide anything or presented someone else’s work as his/her own, an alternative to regarding it as an attempt at cheating is to give the student a fail grade or a lower grade.
C. Cheating/attempt at cheating - prior to and after the examination
Refers to cases where the student obtains access to the examination question paper before the examination takes place or where the student tries/manages to change his/her answer paper after the examination has been completed, and before the paper has been sent to the examiners.
Where the boundary should be drawn between an attempt at cheating and a completed act of cheating is evident from the Proposition to the Odelsting no. 40 (2001-2002) – in Norwegian only. It should be regarded as cheating when a student has examination support materials that are not permitted available
During an examination or in any other way acts in conflict with the examination regulations or rules relating to source referencing. Attempt at cheating is for instance when a student prior to the examination places examination support materials so that it is available during the examination, but this is discovered before the examination starts. In connection with an attempt at cheating, there is a requirement for purpose of execution.
3.3 Additional information relating to cooperation in connection with assignments, home examination and portfolios etc.
Some forms of examination/assessment both allow and presuppose cooperation between students, while others presuppose an individual presentation. In connection with assignments, home assignments/portfolios it shall be clearly stated in the information provided in connection with the individual examination whether the answer paper should be an individual paper or a paper co-written by several persons/a group.
Some cooperation is allowed during an individual home examination or other individual assignments. Examples of such cooperation may be discussing a problem, interpretation of a question paper, exchanging ideas for literature/ other sources. Possible discussions during the assignment may also be allowed, but the assignment/paper/work itself shall be formulated by the individual candidate alone and copying is not allowed.
Two or more papers that are essentially similar/identical to one another when it comes to contents, structure, language, academic views, possible misunderstandings, errors, source referencing etc. may be a demonstration of the kind of cooperation that is not allowed and thus, may be regarded as cheating/attempt at cheating. Therefore, it is very important that the students are careful and make themselves familiar with the boundaries for allowed cooperation in connection with the individual examination.
4. Preparatory proceedings
Cheating may have severe consequences for the persons involved and therefore as a general principle, clear evidence of cheating/attempt at cheating must be required.
Non-permitted examination support materials that are discovered in connection with a written examination with invigilation will be confiscated and will be used as evidence in the Appeals Committee.
Documentation relating to cases of cheating/attempt at cheating must be as complete and accurate as possible and include all relevant documents. The type of documentation depends on the form of examination, the factual basis of the case and the way the cheating has been executed. The documentation must as a minimum include the following information:
- Formalities, name, student number and candidate number, if applicable.
- The candidate’s progression of study
- Programme description, including course description and course information, in addition to other relevant information, if applicable
- The examination question paper, including all attachments and other documents, if applicable
- The candidate’s answer paper
- Report from the examination invigilator in connection with written examination with invigilation
- Assessment from the lecturer related to relevance of the confiscated support material etc. in connection with written examination with invigilation
- Report from examiner/lecturer in connection with written examination without invigilation, including a copy/copies of the sources the student is accused of copying, highlighted and with cross-references to the candidate’s answer paper
- Minutes from the Faculty’s meeting with the student including the students explanations and opinion
- Written statements and e-mails relevant to the case, if applicable.
When suspicion of cheating/ attempt at cheating arises, it is important to immediately
- Get an overview of the situation
- Secure possible evidence.
It is important that the processing of cases related to cheating is prioritised and that they are treated without undue delay.
In such cases the principle of equal treatment of students in similar cases is very important and the faculties must emphasise the development of good judgement and norms in their area of expertise to avoid differentiated treatment.
All cases where justified suspicion exist shall be considered. When in doubt or need for assistance, the Secretary of the Appeals Committee may be contacted.
The Faculty shall summon the student to an interview and make him/her aware of the consequences of cheating and obtain explanation from the student. The student shall be made aware of the suspicion and the reason for the suspicion and be informed of further procedures and his/her rights. On the basis of the available information, the Faculty shall consider the case and make an assessment. However, the Faculty shall not propose a decision. The name of persons involved shall be apparent. These persons may later be used as witnesses.
The case including all attachments and a memorandum shall be sent to the Section for Analysis and Quality of Education at the Department of Academic Affairs, Educational Quality and Internationalisation, where the case will be processed. The students shall get a copy of the memorandum and the attachments.
The Section for Analysis and Quality of Education, functioning as secretary to the Appeals Committee, prepares and presents the case before the Appeals Committee, including the proposal for the decision.
4.3 Examination results
In cases of suspicion of cheating, the answer paper shall be graded as usual.
When a suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating arises, the grade shall be retained and not be announced. If the Appeals Committee’s decision is to annul the examination, the examination result is then annulled. If the Appeals Committee’s decision is that the examination shall not be annulled, the student shall be informed of his/her grade. If the Appeals Committee’s decision is that the student has not cheated and the answer paper has been assessed as failed, the student is entitled to take a new examination, test or study/ coursework requirements, cf. Regulations relating to Studies and Examinations at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences § 7-5 subsection four.
4.4 Duty of confidentiality
The individual case officer has a duty of confidentiality in connection with cases related to a suspicion of cheating or attempt at cheating, cf. The Public Administration Act § 13 subsection one. The duty of confidentiality also applies to examiners, lecturers and other employees involved in such cases.
Documents in cases related to suspicion of cheating/attempt at cheating are exempted from public disclosure, in accordance with The Freedom of Information Act § 13 and The Public Administration Act § 13.
The right to annulment related to cheating or attempt at cheating has no time limit. An annulment decision entails an obligation to return any issued diplomas or transcript of records to the institution. If such diplomas or transcript of records are not returned to the institution at the proper time, the institution may obtain the assistance of the Enforcement Office in accordance with the Enforcement Act, cf. Act relating to Universities and University Colleges 4-7 subsections four and five.
5. Proceedings of the Appeals Committee
The Appeals Committee makes decisions in cases related to suspicion of cheating or attempt at cheating. If the Appeals Committee finds that a student wilfully or through gross negligence has cheated or made an attempt to cheat, the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges§§ 4-7 and 4-8 allows the following sanctions:
- Annulment of examination or test or during the approval of courses (§ 4-7 subsection one, letter b)
- Exclusion from the University College for up to one year and deprivation of the right to take examinations at institutions under the Act (§ 4-8 subsection three).
The Section for Analysis and Quality of Education informs the student or authorised representative of the time and place of the Appeals Committee’s proceedings.
The student and the authorised representative are entitled to be present when the Appeals Committed processes the case.
6. Administrative procedures in connection with the Appeals Committee’s decision
Section for Analysis and Quality of Education informs the student of the Appeals Committee’s decision, including the grounds for the decision and the consequences the decision will have for student. The student shall be informed of the right to appeal, the deadline for appeal, who the appeals body is and where to send the appeal, cf. the Public Administration Act, Chapter V.
The Appeals Committee’s decision regarding exclusion is normally put into effect immediately after the decision is made and from the time set by the Appeals Committee. Decisions may also be put into effect in cases where the student makes an appeal to the Joint Appeals Committee.
The Section for Analysis and Quality of Education notifies the Faculty of the decision of the Appeals Committee. The Faculty shall carry out the necessary registrations in the assessment protocol, while the Section for Analysis and Quality of Education registers decisions regarding exclusion in the National Student Database (FS). The Faculty must make sure that the student does not take examinations or participate in lectures/seminars or practical training during the period of exclusion. The Faculty must also make sure to contact the student and provide information regarding the resumption of his/her studies after the period of exclusion is over.
The Section for Analysis and Quality of Education notifies the other institutions under the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges of the Appeals Committee’s decision of exclusion and the deprivation of the right to take an examination.
7. Appeal to the Joint Appeals Committee
Decisions in the institution’s Appeals Committee regarding annulments and exclusions can be appealed against in accordance with the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges § 4-7 subsection three and § 4-8 subsection four. From 1 April 2006 the appeals body is the Joint Appeals Committee.
Appeals referring to decisions made in the Appeals Committee are first to be sent for a new processing in the Appeals Committee. If the Appeals Committee upholds their decision, Section for Analysis and Quality of Education will send the appeal to the Joint Appeals Committee who will make a final decision on the matter.
If the Joint Appeals Committee confirm the Appeals Committee’s decision, the student may bring decisions of exclusion before the District Court in accordance with the Act related to Universities and University Colleges § 4-11. Civil action against the University College must be brought to court within three months after the final decision has been made. The University College covers the legal fees related to the civil action in a court of law.