UCC students under investigation over project cheating fears

Several University College Cork business information systems (BIS) students are awaiting the outcome of a probe into allegations that they cheated on a final-year project.

While more than a dozen are understood to have been subject of an initial complaint, the number being investigated is thought to be significantly less after initial consideration of the matter.

More than 130 students completed the final year of the four-year programme, but those being investigated have had their results withheld pending the outcome of investigations.

UCC confirmed a process is ongoing with a “small number of students” about possible breach of the university’s exam procedures.

“The university takes the integrity of the examining process very seriously and has policies and procedures to protect the quality of the process,” said a spokeswoman. “Where a potential breach of examining conduct arises, as in this case, this is investigated fully in line with university policy.”

However, it is unclear what stage the process is at or when the cases might be finalised, and UCC provided no further comment due to the ongoing probe.

The alleged breaches are understood to relate to a project in which students have to design and develop a software system to address a specific need of a business or organisation. They must use code they have written themselves to build a system prototype and develop the final software system.

Students must formally authenticate it as their own and any externally-developed components which they may integrate into the project must be identified in all documentation and presentations of the final system.

The process allows for examiners who suspect plagiarism or uncredited use of someone else’s work in assessments or student projects to first consult with the head of the relevant university department or school.

After allowing a student opportunity to explain, the department head can impose a penalty, up to the awarding of a zero mark for the assignment, or refer the case to the student records and examinations officer.

A report to the student records and examinations officer can result in a penalty within the range of discretion of the department head being applied if it is found that there is no case to answer.

However, if it is considered that there is a more serious case to answer, the allegation is reported to the senior vice-president academic and registrar to determine the penalty.

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