At least 1,500 students at Irish universities have been reported for exam cheating, plagiarism, or the use of so-called ‘essay mills’ over the past three years.
Trinity College Dublin and TU Dublin reported the highest numbers of cases, with more than 1,000 instances of students trying to cheat at exams or in assignments at the two universities.
The Technological University (TU) of Dublin said it had dealt with 568 cases where students were deemed to have breached exam regulations or plagiarised material.
For the most recent academic year, there were 33 cases of suspected exam cheating and 138 cases where a student plagiarised work for their assignments.
The university said the data did not include supplemental assignments that were in progress at the time, meaning the figures could still rise slightly.
TU Dublin said the cases it dealt with had resulted in the expulsion of two students from the college during the past three years.
A spokeswoman for TU Dublin said it was committed to ensuring the highest academic standards were upheld for their 30,000 plus students.
Trinity College said it had 445 cases of suspected cheating in the academic years between 2019 and 2021 but that figures for last year were not yet available.
For the academic year 2020-2021, Trinity reported 143 cases of plagiarism and another 154 cases of cheating, according to records released under FOI.
Asked how many students had been expelled or suspended during that period for academic cheating, it said there were none.
University College Cork reported almost no cases over the last three years, with just one case of plagiarism logged in the academic year of 2019-2020.
It said there were no reports of exam cheating or use of essay mills during the period and that no students had been suspended or expelled either.
The University of Galway said eight cases of cheating or plagiarism were reported to its discipline committee or exam security group in the academic year just past.
It reported more than 110 cases of academic cheating over the past three years, with 12 of those cases subsequently overturned on appeal.
The university said plagiarism or contract cheating cases were only referred for full investigation when “the level of cheating is so substantial in volume as to have a serious impact on the academic integrity of the work”.
A spokesman for the University of Galway said it addressed the issue through education, good assessment design, and standard procedure, with regular workshops for staff.
Maynooth University said it had just over 200 cases of academic cheating over the past three years.
It said it had 11 cases of exam cheating where students were found with notes; although there were none in 2020/21 when assessment was online due to Covid-19.
Maynooth University said it had four cases last year where students were discovered to have contract cheating services, or essay mills.
There were 186 cases in total of plagiarism, with the university saying no students had been suspended or expelled, as a “first offence” was not dealt with in that way.
Dublin City University (DCU) said it had 99 cases of plagiarism, exam regulations breaches, or other suspected cheating between 2019 and 2021.
Of those, 73 were upheld, with four students prevented from re-registering for further studies at the university during the three years. DCU said figures were not available as yet for 2022.
A DCU spokesperson said: “The university is committed to a strong culture of academic integrity to support students, and partners closely with student leaders in DCU to foster this. This threat is as much to students and the value of their degrees as it is to institutions, and that is well understood by students.”
The University of Limerick said it had dealt with 65 cases of cheating by various means during the past three academic years. It said just one of those cases had resulted in the suspension of a student.
A spokeswoman said UL was vigilant to ensure academic integrity and instances of misconduct were dealt with in a “fair and consistent way”.
University College Dublin said it could not provide figures for cheating for the past two academic years but that 117 cases had been reported in the 2019-2020 year.