More than 200 UM students committed plagiarism last year

More than 200 UM students committed plagiarism last year

FSE students often copy and paste programming codes

20-09-2023 · News

MAASTRICHT. Two hundred Maastricht students copied passages from someone else’s work without mentioning the source or handed in texts that were generated by AI. This is shown by the latest plagiarism figures by the Maastricht Examination Committees.

Students from the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASoS) overstepped the mark often; 89 of them were punished because of plagiarism, said Jo Wachelder, head of the Examination Committee. “This can be done by issuing a formal warning or exclusion from exams. It depends on the seriousness, the extent, and the number of times that the student plagiarised.”

Of the 89 FASoS students that overstepped the bounds, 25 submitted texts that were generated by AI. Wachelder: “These students often get caught because their literature references are incorrect. In a lot of instances, ChatGPT invents them."

A total of more than two hundred students at UM have been punished for plagiarism. It is impossible to give an exact number, because some Examination Committees do not register plagiarism and fraud separately, but lump all cases together. The number of ‘plagiarisers’ at UM is higher than ever. In 2002, the number was ninety, in 2012, it was 145. The actual number is always much higher, because students invent new tricks to mislead antiplagiarism software and because not all lecturers report it. Some just stick to a firm talking-to.

The faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences rapped 49 students on the knuckles, most of them from Health Sciences (23). At Psychology and Neuroscience, there were twenty cases. Economics and Law do not differentiate between plagiarism and fraud. SBE punished 93 students last year, while Law did so in 101 cases; the work of the students concerned was mostly declared invalid. Fraud was often committed with a mobile phone or a smartwatch.

The Faculty of Science & Engineering (FSE) covers the University Colleges in Maastricht and Venlo, and the Maastricht Science Program, which do not have current figures yet. In the 2021/22 academic year, they caught a total of 76 students, who either committed fraud or plagiarised.

In the other FSE study programmes, secretly copying texts hardly occurs; last year, there were 4 cases. What does happen often is a different form of plagiarism: cutting and pasting programming code. Students pull them from the Internet or hand the task over to AI. Last year, this happened 22 times.

At the end of 2022, a whopping eighty students simultaneously cheated with computer codes. This happened in the Business Engineering programme, for SBE and FSE students. The programme comes under SBE’s Examination Committee. The exam was declared invalid.

Read here about UM’s new plagiarism software