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Routines for handling suspicion of cheating and attempted cheating at the University of Oslo

The routines for handling suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating were approved by the University Director on 10 June 2008. 


1 Introduction

The routines for handling suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating were approved by the University Director on 10 June 2008. The area of application for the routines are all courses at Bachelor’s and Master’s level, programmes of professional study, teacher training programmes, and further education courses at UiO. The routines also apply for elements in the training component of organized courses of education for researchers that conclude with an examination. The routines do not apply for other aspects of researcher education or for specialist training. The routines apply both for compulsory coursework requirements and for examinations with invigilation and without invigilation. The routines apply for all categories of students and for private candidates (hereafter jointly referred to as “students”).

The University Board has delegated decision-making authority in cases concerning suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating to the Central Appeals Committee at the University of Oslo (hereafter referred to as “the appeals committee”), cf. first paragraph of § 4-7 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. The purpose of the routines is to describe the procedure to be followed in matters involving suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating at UiO for those involved in this type of case.

The routines attempt to take into account the diversity of the University’s types of tests and examinations so that the routines can be utilized for many different cases. However, although cases may arise that are not directly described in the routines, in most events it will nonetheless be possible to handle such cases in the usual manner in accordance with these routines.

2 General information

Students at UiO must be given clear and easily accessible information in the curriculum or in other advance information from the faculty/department about the support materials that are permitted for examinations, the permitted method of using such materials, and the control arrangements of the faculty/department for these materials. This will make students aware of how to behave to avoid being suspected of cheating and/or attempted cheating. Anything that can be of academic interest beyond the permitted support materials is classified as an unlawful aid.

Students are under the obligation to become familiar with the prevailing regulations for examination support materials and with the use of sources and the rules for citing and quoting from others’ work when writing assignments and theses. Inadequate knowledge of the regulations on cheating and/or attempted cheating and the rules for citing and quoting does not exempt students from liability.

The appeals committee takes decisions as the body of first instance in cases of suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating. If the appeals committee finds a student guilty of cheating and/or attempted cheating, §§ 4-7 and 4-8 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges provide the following possible forms of penalty:

  • Annulment of examinations or tests, or annulment of recognition of courses (§ 4-7).

  • Exclusion from the institution and loss of the right to sit the examination at the institution and possibly also at other institutions pursuant to the Act (§ 4-8).

The above penalties cannot be implemented until the appeals committee has made its decision.

Enquiries from the press or others in cases of suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating at UiO must be referred to the Director of Academic Affairs. Once the appeals committee has taken a decision, UiO can indicate the faculty, the type of cheating, the form of penalty and if relevant the department, but the information must not make it possible for the person involved to be identified.

3 What is cheating and/or attempted cheating?

Pursuant to the first paragraph of § 4-7 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, proceedings must be instituted on suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating in cases where there is suspicion that a student or an examination candidate has attempted to cheat or wilfully or through gross negligence has cheated in the course of or prior to the final assessment of the examination or test concerned, or while taking the course in question. Proceedings must also be instituted in the event of cheating and/or attempted cheating in any work that must be recognized to gain admission to the examination.

A student can be suspected of cheating and/or attempted cheating if, for example, he/she:

  • neglects to give information on sources or states fictitious sources (printed or non-printed material, oral or written forms of communication)

  • gives the impression that his/her examination answer paper is more independent than it actually is

  • uses support materials (or the assistance of other people) that are not permitted

At examinations with invigilation, suspicions of cheating and/or attempted cheating may arise if:

  • a student has unlawful support materials available during the examination. It is not necessary for the student to have used the unlawful support materials or to have been caught in the act of using them for a case of suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating to be submitted to the appeals committee.

  • a student has unlawful support materials available in areas outside the actual examination premises – for example placed/hidden in the toilet.

  • a student converses, or communicates in another way, with others about the examination questions/assignments during the examination or during any breaks.

  • a student sends another person to sit the examination in his/her place.

At examinations without invigilation, suspicions of cheating and/or attempted cheating may arise if:

  • the examination answer paper has not been completed by the student him/herself.

  • the examination answer paper has been completed in collaboration with others without this being stated.

  • the examination answer paper has previously been handed in at another examination at UiO or at another national or international educational institution.

  • the examination answer paper reproduces others’ work (for example academic literature/articles/websites) without specifying the source.

  • the examination answer paper reproduces the student’s own work without specifying the source.

  • the examination answer paper’s literature list does not contain all the sources and references that have been used in the examination answer paper.

In connection with the examination, proceedings can also be instituted on suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating on the basis of circumstances that do not arise during the actual sitting of the examination. For example this can occur if:

  • a student deliberately gains access to the examination questions/assignments before the examination.

  • a student attempts to/manages to change his/her answer paper after it has been handed in, and if this occurs after the assessment for the examination in question has been given.

  • a student assists other students to cheat

Compulsory coursework requirements that include an element of assessment on the part of UiO are also covered by stipulations on cheating in the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges.

4 Grading/assessment

When suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating arises, the examination answer papers must generally be assessed in the normal manner, but the student must not be notified of the result. In each individual case the faculty can decide whether an examination answer paper can be graded in the normal manner or whether any assessment must wait until after the appeals committee has handled the case.

If the matter is submitted to the appeals committee, the student must not be notified of his/her results. If the appeals committee decides that an examination is to be annulled, the student is not notified of the result of any assessment of the examination. If the appeals committee decides that an examination is not to be annulled, the student is told the result of the assessment of the examination, and the faculty transfers the result to the examination records.

5 Responsibilities of the faculty

When a matter concerning suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating is detected, the student is entitled to complete the examination in question or the remaining examination(s) as planned. Sanctions cannot be imposed until a final decision on the matter has been taken.

As a general rule, all cases that involve suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating must be submitted to the appeals committee. However, in each individual case the faculty can assess the connection between academic immaturity and cheating and/or attempted cheating. If the faculty is in any doubt as to whether an irregularity is covered by the term “cheating”, the faculty can contact the Department of Student and Academic Affairs for assistance.

When suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating arises, the faculty/department must review the situation and secure all the evidence. The documentation must be as precise as possible and must include all the relevant documents. What is required regarding evidence will depend on how the student is suspected of cheating and/or attempted cheating. Any statements from university employees, for example examiners, can be attached to the memo presenting the facts of the case to the appeals committee. A list of those involved must be compiled since such persons may be used as witnesses.

Each executive officer is under the obligation to observe secrecy concerning any suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating, cf. § 13 of the Public Administration Act. The same applies to examiners, invigilators and other employees at the University who come into contact with such cases. Documents relating to cases concerning any suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating are exempted from public disclosure pursuant to § 5a of the Freedom of Information Act, cf. § 13 of the Public Administration Act.

The case preparations at a faculty/department must be of an administrative nature. It is appropriate that the unit that is closest to the situation where the suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating has arisen should compile most of the basic documentation. To ensure a uniform practice in the faculty, however, the faculty should assume the main responsibility in this type of case.

When cases concerning suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating arise, the faculty must inform the student as soon as possible that a case of suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating is being prepared and must give the student the opportunity to express his/her opinion, cf. § 16 of the Public Administration Act. The faculty must inform the student when the suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating is specific enough to necessitate a more detailed examination of the case. The student must be informed about what the suspicion involves, how the handling of the case will continue, and his/her rights. The information must contain details of the student’s rights pursuant to §§ 4-7, 4-8 and 4-11 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. The student must also receive this information in writing.

All post sent to students in connection with cases concerning suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating must be despatched by registered mail.

The student must be informed of his/her right to a meeting with the faculty/department to discuss the matter. The student also has the right to express his/her opinion on the case in writing.

The student has the right to call on the assistance of a lawyer or another proxy at all stages of the proceedings, cf. § 12 of the Public Administration Act. Once the student has given notification of the person he/she has chosen as an proxy, all further contact must take place through this person.

The student has the right to have all costs of assistance from a lawyer that are incurred in such cases covered in line with official rates and with the terms and conditions laid out in the regulations relating to fees, from the date the question of suspension or exclusion is raised or from the date of any written warning pursuant to the first paragraph of § 4-8 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, cf. fifth paragraph of § 4-8. The cost shall be met by the institution, cf. fifth paragraph of § 4-8 of this Act.

The student has the right to have all costs of assistance from a lawyer that are incurred in such cases covered in line with official rates and with the terms and conditions laid out in the regulations relating to fees, from the date the question of annulment is raised or from the date of any written warning of this is given.

The student or the proxy is entitled to inspect the documents relating to the case pursuant to §§ 18-20 of the Public Administration Act. During the preparations of the case the student or the proxy will normally only be entitled to inspect the actual facts of the case – for example the student’s tests/examinations, testimonies from witnesses, and descriptions of the course of events.

In accordance with § 9.1 of the Regulations governing studies and examinations at UiO, it is the responsibility of the faculty to submit cases concerning suspicion of cheating and/or attempted cheating, including drawing up a memo presenting the facts of the case to the appeals committee. The memo must describe the background and the actual circumstances of the case. All relevant documentation must be attached.

The memo presenting the facts of the case must contain an assessment of possible sanctions for the case in question. The faculty must evaluate the level of sanction, and must submit a recommendation to the appeals committee. The final decision is taken by the appeals committee on the basis of an overall assessment of the case in which emphasis can be placed on elements such as the scope of the examination, the level of the programme of studies and the form of examination.

6 Handling by the appeals committee

The University Director informs the student or the proxy of the time and place for the appeals committee’s handling of the case.

The student and his/her proxy have the right to attend the proceedings of the appeals committee. If the student or the proxy wishes to attend the proceedings of the appeals committee, the University Director must be notified of this at the latest the day before the meeting is to be held.

7 Administrative follow-up of the appeals committee’s decision

Any decision on exclusion applies from the date of the appeals committee’s decision. The decision can be implemented immediately even if the student appeals to the national appeals committee for handling appeals and even if he/she then brings the decision before the court system. The University Director can postpone the implementation of the decision, cf. § 42 of the Public Administration Act. The University Director notifies the student of the appeals committee’s decision, cf. §§ 24 and 25 of the Public Administration Act. The notification must include the actual decision and the reasons for it, as well as the consequences the decision has for the student. In addition, information must be attached on the student’s rights pursuant to the fourth paragraph of § 4-8 and § 4-11 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, including the deadline for appeals to the national appeals committee for handling appeals and the deadline for bringing the decision to the court for trial.

The University Director informs the faculty of the decision taken by the appeals committee and of the follow-up that is required from the faculty in each individual case.

In the event of a decision involving annulment, the faculty must make the registration required in the examination records.

In the event of a decision involving exclusion, the faculty must ensure that the student does not attend classes that are intended solely for university students in the period during which he/she is excluded.

In the event of a decision involving exclusion, the Department of Student and Academic Affairs must record the matter in the University’s student register and must request the return of any semester card issued.

If the examination that is annulled constitutes a necessary component of a degree that has already been awarded, the faculty must request the student to return the diploma, cf. fifth paragraph of § 4-7 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. If this is not returned voluntarily, the University Director must contact the execution and enforcement commissioner for enforced recovery.

Pursuant to the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, the University Director notifies the other universities and university colleges of the appeals committee’s decision on exclusion. The University Director notifies the Directorate of Immigration of the appeals committee’s decision in cases that concern annulment and the exclusion of foreign students who have a residence permit for the purpose of studying. Normally the notification is not made until the expiry of the deadline for appeals.

8 Appeals against the appeals committee’s decision

The student can appeal against the appeals committee’s decision to the national appeals committee for handling appeals pursuant to § 4-7 to § 4-10 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. Any appeal against decisions taken by the appeals committee is first sent for re-handling by this board. If the appeals committee upholds its decision, the University Director sends the matter to the national appeals committee for handling appeals, which takes the final decision.

If the national appeals committee for handling appeals upholds the appeals committee’s decision, the student can bring the case before the courts for legal trial. Such lawsuits must be filed within three months of the final decision being taken, cf. first paragraph of § 4-11 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. Any lawsuit is brought before Oslo District Court.

The institution meets all the costs of the lawsuit, including payment of the claimant’s lawyer, cf. second paragraph of § 4-11 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges.

When a case is handled in the courts of law, the judgement is made public. In contexts other than specific case proceedings – for example in connection with information at UiO – the judgement is kept anonymous.

9 Prosecution of criminal offences

In accordance with the University Board’s decision of 24 January 1995, the University Director can request prosecution on behalf of the institution pursuant to the General Civil Penal Code. The University Director can consider whether the authorization granted in each individual case should be delegated to the administrative management at the faculty, department or unit.

10 Notification from a third party of suspicion of cheating and attempted cheating

Any suspicion that papers handed in by a student exploit others’ work dishonestly must be reported to the faculty. If the faculty finds grounds to examine the case, the faculty must notify the person involved in the case about the content of the complaint and who has submitted it. The faculty confirms receipt of the complaint to the complainant and if necessary collects further information from this person. Unless the complainant’s own work has been exploited, he/she is not given rights as a party or information on the matter and does not have the right to inspect the case documents. This also applies if the appeals committee takes a decision in the case and if this board’s decision is appealed at national level.

Published Aug. 6, 2008 2:15 PM - Last modified Mar. 31, 2016 2:54 PM