Aug 31, 2012 / 7:30 am
Harvard University will consider instituting an honour code as it investigates whether at least 125 undergraduates cheated by working together on a take-home exam in the spring.
Officials said they intend to start broad conversations about academic honesty, including why it is vital to intellectual inquiry, in the wake of what is believed to be the largest such episode in recent school history.
"We really think we need to work harder," said Jay M. Harris, dean of undergraduate education. "We do think it's an opportunity to really put out before the community how much we value integrity."
School officials said Thursday they discovered roughly half of the students in a class of at least 250 people may have shared answers or plagiarized on a final. They declined to release the name of the class or the students' names.
"These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable behaviour that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends," President Drew Faust said.
A Harvard spokesman said he knows of no incidents in recent memory of possible cheating at the university on this scale.
Each student whose work is in question has been called to appear before a subcommittee of the Harvard College Administrative Board, which reviews issues of academic integrity.
Possible punishments range from an admonition, a sort of warning for a first offence, to being forced to withdraw from Harvard for a year. It wasn't immediately clear what sanctions any student who has graduated may face.
Harris emphasized that none of the allegations has been proven and said there's no evidence of widespread cheating at Harvard.
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