UTM’s Academic Affairs Committee was recently briefed on the challenges related to preventing academic offences at UTM.
In a presentation on November 18, UTMSU VP university affairs and academics Nour Alideeb, along with staff from the dean’s office and the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre, collaborated to discuss new ways of combating academic dishonesty.
According to Alideeb, her portfolio has dealt with approximately 20 academic offence–related cases since she was elected earlier this year; many of the cases UTMSU has come across are related to incorrect referencing or students not properly paraphrasing sources.
“The challenges we are facing alongside the dean’s office are the new online platforms available to students that make it easier to commit offences,” said Alideeb in an email to The Medium, adding that UTM students come from a broad variety of backgrounds and arrive with various expectations for their education.
According to Alideeb, this causes academic standards to be “inconsistent” in the minds of students.
“[This] affects how seriously students take academic integrity in postsecondary education,” she said.
The presentation recommended better education for students, staff, and faculty about preventing academic offences. UTMSU also listed forthcoming plans the union hopes to roll out, which include “help[ing] students understand legal language of [the academic code]” and “collaborate with RGASC to ensure students are provided with adequate training”.
“We need to have more discussions about what academic offences look like—most students know that copying and pasting is an academic offence, but more students do not know that it is possible to plagiarize yourself,” said Alideeb.
An academic offence on an assignment worth 10 percent or more can result in a variety of consequences, including a zero on the assignment or a reduction of the final grade in the course.
“We recognize that stress is a huge contributor to students committing academic offences,” said Alideeb. “One of our goals this year was to create fun and educational campaigns about our academic policies.
“The policies can be inaccessible in materials generated by the university,” said Alideeb.
UTMSU held its first academic advocacy week in September.
“The consequences of these academic offences are heartbreaking and as students in postsecondary education, we have to take it upon ourselves to learn our rights and responsibilities,” Alideeb.