Plagiarism Proceedings in Higher Education -

Quality Assured?

Martin Jones


The ongoing development and maintenance of academic standards within UK higher education has become an increasing feature of academic life and in recent times has become synonymous with the phrase quality assurance. The adoption of national qualification frameworks, benchmarks and codes of practice all underpinned by a system of review goes a long way to satisfy employers and the public in general of the veracity of a UK degree, irrespective of the awarding body.

There is, however, a question mark over whether such quality assurance processes governing institutional plagiarism policies and procedures have kept pace with the threats to academic integrity that plagiarism in the Internet age has brought. It is acknowledged that many institutions have, in recent years, revisited and revised their academic regulations to deal with these emerging challenges but this has largely been undertaken in isolation and has created diversity in practice. Such diversity may lead to inconsistent treatment of students from institution to institution and may also have legal implications.

This paper analyses the academic regulations from Scottish universities where law is taught. It also draws on plagiarism statistics gained under The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 from the same institutions. It argues that the coordination of the HE sector in the context of plagiarism should go beyond that already established in the provision of electronic detection tools and the dissemination of good practice via JISCPAS and QAA. Standardising academic policy and procedural regulations, albeit not an easy process, would help to ensure the quality expected by students, employers and the public in general.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.