Thousands of university students caught cheating

Thousands of students have been caught cheating in the last three years. Credit: PA

Tens of thousands of university students have been caught cheating in the last three years fuelling fears of a "plagiarism epidemic”.

Figures obtained by The Times via a Freedom of Information request revealed nearly 50,000 students had been caught. Students from outside the EU four times more likely to cheat in exams and coursework essays, the analysis showed.

Out of 129 UK universities, 362 students were dismissed because of cheating - making up 1% of those found guilty of misconduct.

Eleven institutions each over 1,000 students cheating over the three-year period, with Kent University finding the most guilty at 1,947.

Five students were even caught arranging for someone else to sit their exams.

Non-EU students made up 35% of all cases but accounted for just 12% of the student population, requests from 70 universities showed.

One university professor highlighted the increasing use of professional essay writers, widely available on the internet.

Professor Geoffrey Alderman of the University of Buckingham told the paper: "What I'd call type-1 plagiarism, copying and pasting, is on the wane because it's so easy to detect.

"But my impression is that type-2 cheating, using a bespoke essay-writing service, is increasing."

Such services can charge hundreds of pounds for essays, dissertations and model exam answers written by professional lecturers up to doctorate level.