Online learning at universities has become a loophole for students to cheat, and cases have skyrocketed since the close of last year.
Figures released at Control under the Official Information Act show a 458 percent increase in cheating at Lincoln University last year. Almost five times higher than before the pandemic.
Lecturers say the problem is far worse than the numbers show, as lockdowns interrupt valuable face-to-face teaching.
The figures show that five of the eight colleges had an increase in cheating in the past year.
At the University of Waikato there was a 134 percent increase in academic misconduct in 2020 compared to 2019.
Victoria University of Wellington had an increase of 180 percent, Massey – 110 percent, the University of Canterbury had an increase of 204 percent and the University of Lincoln’s levels were almost five times higher with an increase of 458 percent. hundred.
Dr. Myra Williamson, a law professor at the University of Waikato, had been dealing with student cheating for years, but said Covid-19 left them with a big problem on their hands.
“It was so quick to get to the online space for obvious reasons, we had to go and do all of our assessment online, but we haven’t really put in place the infrastructure, if you will, the learning infrastructure to be able to maintain academic integrity in that space.”
She had taught both abroad and in New Zealand and said it was shocking how simple cheating was. She even tried buying an essay herself.
“I mean it was extremely easy to just make a contact with a website and tell them what you needed and when you needed it and how much you were willing to pay and what brand you wanted.”
The results were just the tip of the iceberg, Williamson said.
She hoped that other test options could be explored, such as oral exams for law students.
A member of the Massey University math and science staff echoed their concerns and did not want to be named.
Since the close of last year, his students had been cheating using an online file-sharing service, he said.
“You pay a monthly fee. In fact, you submit the specific question that you want answered and then the contractor in India writes the answer for you immediately, such as within 15 minutes of the question, and the answer is posts publicly for all other website members to view. So not just one student who posted the question, any other student in the class searching for it. “
That’s backed by research from Imperial College London that found a 200 percent increase in requests for help with exam-type questions since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
While the traps were always investigated, the system did not work for modern traps, the Massey employee said.
“But there needs to be an investigation, you know a disciplinary investigation, and then it is extremely slow and slow, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish, it is difficult to obtain evidence, so in that case the student would normally be fired.”
He wanted to see more dialogue with students about the consequences of cheating and exploring things like browser monitors and cameras, but he admitted that these privacy issues raised.
But he wanted something done before the problem got worse.
“It could undermine the entire education system.”
In its OIA statement, the University of Lincoln said: “Prior to 2019, departments reported low-level academic misconduct, but did not necessarily notify supervisors. The strong increase in notifications from 2019 reflects the introduction of new centralized reporting systems to supervisors. “
The University of Auckland will remain online for the remainder of the year, but no one was available to be interviewed.
The Tertiary Institute of Education and the University Council also declined to comment or be interviewed by Control.