At the end of the fall 2019 term, there were three instances of academic misconduct in Canadian higher education that made the news:
Brandon University, Manitoba
Students in a second-year nursing class at Brandon University faced disciplinary action after a final exam for the 2019 fall semester was deemed “compromised” (Klowak, 2020). The course in question was 71:250 Nursing Foundations II course, taught by Dr. Ali Salman. Although the total number of students implicated was not officially released,the media reported that between 46 and 48 students may have been involved. One news report printed a photo of a de-identified letter, signed by the Dean of the Faculty of Health Studies, Dr. John Moraros, indicating that the students would be offered the opportunity to re-take their final exam, with the caveat that the maximum they could earn on the rewritten exam would be 70%. Although the incident took place at the end of the fall 2019 term, details did not appear in the news until early 2020.
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
On the west coast, the media reported that the Burnaby RCMP investigated allegations of someone impersonating a student during a final exam. Both the test writer and the student were arrested. The incident allegedly occurred on December 12, 2019, though details of the story did not appear the media for almost a week afterwards. Details about the individuals involved or the course the final exam related to were not released.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan
Twenty-two (22) construction electricians had their journeyperson certificates suspended or cancelled as a result of an investigation into exam cheating at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Moosejaw. Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) and an unidentified third- party investigation firm found that apprentices had accessed unauthorized materials during their exams, which included Red Seal interprovincial certification exams, one of the highest credentials available to journeypeople in Canada.
News stories over the past decade
The investigation reportedly began 18 months prior, with the cheating having been found to occur between 2015 and 2018. Two individuals were implicated in the scandal. CBC reported that an instructor who was found to have been giving out exam answers to students was fired following the investigation. In addition, an SATCC staff member was also found responsible and resigned.
These reports got me asking what other cases of academic misconduct were reported by the press in the past decade. I did some digging and documented some of the most prominent cases in this report.
One of the findings that surprised me was that the media have reported at least three cases in the past decade that resulted in arrests in Canada for contract cheating through exam impersonation. In addition the 2019 case at Simon Fraser University, there was an arrest made in 2016 at Concordia University and another two years prior for a similar situation at the University of Waterloo.
The report I pulled together documents key cases covered by the media in the past decade. Here’s to doing better in the decade ahead.
Get the full report:
Eaton, S. E. (2020). An Inquiry into Major Academic Integrity Violations in Canada: 2010-2019. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111483
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.