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University of Regina suspects 50 cases of alleged cheating by nursing students

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The University of Regina (U of R) says it's seeing an increase of cheating. This comes as the post-secondary institution investigates a batch of "academic integrity concerns" during final exams for nursing students.

Out of approximately 1,200 nursing students who wrote an estimated 4,800 evaluations in December of 2023 – investigations have opened into around 50 cases or just over one per cent.

All of the cases concern students in the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science Nursing Program.

“The number of reported academic integrity concerns in all faculties, including Nursing, is higher than in previous years,” university spokesperson Paul Dederick told CTV News.

Dederick identified two main elements leading to an increase in misconduct.

“One contributing factor academic officials are finding is that some students who completed the majority of their high school during the pandemic, and who are now taking university-level exams, are not as experienced with formal exam regulations,” he explained.

“Improper use of artificial intelligence tools is another factor leading to an increase in academic misconduct concerns.”

The university did not provide specifics on the status of the investigations, saying some were still underway, some were concluded due to lack of evidence, while others have determined that academic misconduct did occur.

“Not all the investigations are yet complete. Additionally, students found in violation of our academic misconduct provisions have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days to the Council Discipline Committee,” Dederick said.

Students who have committed academic misconduct can face penalties such as warnings, reduction in grades, a grade of XF (academic misconduct), a loss or repayment of scholarships and awards, suspension, expulsion and the withholding of a degree.

“The most frequently applied penalty has been a reduction in the grade of the final exam,” Dederick explained.

In its statement, the U of R reiterated that it takes all academic misconduct very seriously and has policies and procedures in place to prevent and address it.

“It is important to note that academic misconduct investigations are routinely undertaken in all faculties at the University of Regina, as they are at all Canadian universities.”

Misconduct at the U of R was also highlighted in 2018, when allegations of cheating surrounded the university’s engineering program.

Following the incidents, the U of R created a pilot project to introduce video surveillance to some final exams.

Following the move to virtual classes during the pandemic, both the U of R and the University of Saskatchewan reported a rise in academic misconduct.

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