Making the front page of The Times on 2 January, it has been revealed that the University of Kent has the highest rate of cheating in any UK university.

The data received by The Times, following their submission of 129 freedom of information requests to UK universities, revealed that nearly 50,000 students in the UK have been caught cheating over the course of the past three years. Of this, the University of Kent accounts for 1,947 of the total instances of cheating. This statistic accounts for just 3.89% of total cheating infringements, however, should the cheating statistics be divided by the number of universities questioned over their records, the average number of cases of cheating found in each university would be 388. This means that universities would be expected to have an average national rate of 0.78% for cheating levels each year. This statistic leaves Kent five times over the expected average of cheating in UK universities.

Infographic for cheating flattened

The University is not alone in its disproportionately high cheating figures, however. It was found that 10 other universities also had over 1,000 instances in three years. Westminster University came close to Kent’s own figures, with a reported 1,933 cases. Following this were East London with 1,828, Sheffield Hallam with 1,740, and Oxford Brookes with 1,711.

The freedom of information requests specified the cheating figures to be inclusive of both coursework and exam performances. Although the subsequent statistics found close to 50,000 cases of cheating over a three-year period, only 362 students were dismissed for their actions. The University’s policies on cheating can be found in the Credit Framework for Taught Programmes.

In short, the procedures are as follows. If a student is suspected of cheating, both the student and Chair of the School Disciplinary Committee shall be informed; the Chair will then decide whether they believe the student may have cheated. If it is the first time a student has been found to be cheating, they may receive a formal warning, with or without a minor penalty. If the act of cheating has been deemed a minor offence, the student may receive no marks for the work in question. If a student’s cheating is decided to be a serious offence, the School Disciplinary Committee will “impose an appropriate penalty”.

Cases in which the “termination of registration” for a student is listed as a penalty can be found in the unauthorised use of materials of electronic devices in exams, copying from a student in an exam, impersonating another student or conspiring to impersonate another student in an exam, attempting to influence a teacher or examiner, serious, substantial or repeat offences of plagiarism, and in cases of falsification of data. If a student has been dismissed from the University, they may not attempt to register for another degree at Kent.

The University Press Office has been contacted for a statement. Updates to this story will be provided should a statement be given, once the University has reopened on 4 January.