Posted on January 14, 2016

Cheating by International Students Rampant at British Universities, Says Newspaper

Brendan O'Malley, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 13, 2016

The United Kingdom is suffering a cheating epidemic fuelled by the influx of international students, with almost 50,000 students at British universities caught cheating in the past three years, according to an investigation by The Times newspaper based on responses to more than 100 freedom of information requests.

The investigation found that students from outside of the European Union were more than four times as likely to cheat in exams and coursework.

This is an article from University World News, an online publication that covers global higher education. It is presented here under an agreement with The Chronicle.

At Queen Mary University of London 75% of postgraduates found to have plagiarised were from overseas with a third from China, the newspaper reported.

At Staffordshire University, more than half of cheating cases involved international students, who make up 5% of the student body.

The Times examined data from 129 universities. The data revealed that 11 universities recorded 1,000 or more cheats over the three-year period examined and the problem of cheating was highest at the University of Kent, with 1,947 cases of cheating. But the University of Westminster followed closely behind with 1,933 cases, and Oxford Brookes University had 1,711 cases.

However, across the board, less than one in a hundred of those found guilty of academic misconduct were kicked out–a total of 362 students.

The Times’ investigation found that students from outside of the EU were disproportionately represented among those caught cheating. Among 70 universities which provided data on international students who cheated, those students were involved in 35% of cheating cases but made up only 12% of the student body, the newspaper reported.


One factor that may be fuelling the problem of cheating is the growth of essay mills.

Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke, both academics from Birmingham City University, have been researching this problem since 2005 and have identified 30,000 cases of students paying other people to write their essays for them, Lancaster told International Business Times UK.

The duo have identified India as one of the key countries supplying writers and workers to help students with contact cheating, because there are many people there with a high level of English and the cost is lower than for a contractor in the UK.