Guidelines concerning cheating and censurable acts at NMBU

Chapter 1 Guideline's Purpose

1.1 The guidelines were established on 6 December 2012 by the University Board at the University of Life Sciences (UMB). The guidelines came into force on 1 January 2013. The guidelines are still valid at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) after linguistic revision June 15, 2015.

1.2 The guidelines should clarify the content of the term cheating at NMBU, and highlight the possible consequences for students who are guilty of cheating or other censurable acts.

1.3 The guidelines shall determine the duties and responsibilities of the University's units when possible cheating or other censurable acts are discovered in connection with the student's academic performance at NMBU.  

Chapter 2 Guidelines

2.1 The guidelines apply to all students at NMBU.

2.2 The guidelines include all student work evaluated to be documented on a diploma, transcript or diploma certificate from NMBU or collaborating institutions, including ongoing study when the activity is part of the evaluation of the student in the course. The guidelines include presentations and exams conducted outside NMBU when they are to be included in an exam or the basis for a degree at NMBU.

2.3 The concept used in the guidelines follows of provisions of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges cf. Ot.prp. No.71 (2008-2009) p. 32.

Chapter 3 NMBU's Understanding of Cheating

3.1 Cheating is any act aimed at giving the student an unwarranted study result or an unjustified advantage in evaluating the student achievement.

3.2 Examples of cheating are listed in this section. The list is not exhaustive.

A. Breach of the exam regulations at NMBU may be cheating.

B. Cheating may consist in acquiring knowledge of the exam questions prior to the start of the exam with the intention of taking advantage of the knowledge during the exam.

C. Actions that on a false basis aim at giving a student benefits during the exam in the form of extended time or additional aids may be cheating.

D. Cheating may be to manipulate the submitted exam answers for the purpose of obtaining a better mark.

E. Cheating may consist in obtaining access to aids that are not permitted by NMBU's provided aid codes for the relevant written exam. This applies irrespective of whether the illegal aid consists of paper, mobile phone or other equipment, and regardless of whether the aid is in the exam room or other places where the candidate can obtain access to the aid during the exam.

F. Cheating may consist in the fact that a submitted assignment has been prepared by another person than the one listed as the examinee.

G. Plagiarism is cheating. Examples of plagiarism: Reproduction or quotes from books, articles, websites, own or others' assignments, use of images, graphs and the like without source reference, quotation mark or other acknowledgment in the text / picture / drawing showing where the material is taken from.

H. Cheating may consist in the fact that a written answer has been used by the examinee himself for a previous examination, unless such use is agreed upon with the course responsible.

3.3 Actions aimed at granting a person admission to studies at NMBU on an unjustified basis are not considered cheating, but may in the circumstances be perceived as other fraud cf. the Act relating to Universities and University College cf. 4-7, first paragraph, subparagraph a.

Chapter 4 Legal basis

4.1 Sanctions to cheating and other dishonesty are based on the rules on the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges chapter 4.

4.2 The procedures are based on the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, the Public Administration Act and Guidelines for the NMBU Appeals Committee. NMBU's internal rules on study related matters form part of the foundation for the students' rights and duties at the university.

Chapter 5 Preparatory proceedings  

5.1 The Chief Security Officer (CSO) is responsibility for preparatory proceedings of possible cheating or other censurable acts at NMBU. The CSO will usually delegate the authority in such cases to the Director of Academic Affairs.

5.2 In the event of suspected cheating, the person who discovers the situation shall promptly secure any evidence. If the suspicion applies to cheating in the form of unauthorized aids during the exam, the aids in question shall immediately be confiscated. This also applies to objects of economic value, such as mobile phones, however such items should be returned to the student no later than the next day. NMBU ensures that students who register for exams have agreed to comply with this measure, if necessary.

5.3 When suspicion of cheating occurs before or during the exam, the student shall be informed of the suspicion. The exam will normally be conducted as planned if the student so wishes. If the suspicion arises during a written examination, the student shall be granted an extended examination time corresponding to the time of contact for suspicion, namely at least 30 minutes.

5.4 The student's examination answer is marked in the usual way, but the mark is not announced until it is decided if the case is to be forwarded to the appeal board and, if so, until after the complaint has been processed.

5.5 As soon as possible, the person who has discovered the act in question must prepare a written statement of what has been found, which persons were involved and what has been done. The report shall not comment on matters relating to the question of guilt or provide advice on further proceedings or sanctions. The report is addressed to the Director of Academic Affairs.

5.6 If the Director of Academic Affairs concludes that the circumstances may provide grounds for sanctions pursuant to sections 4-7 to 4-10 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, the case shall be sent to the Appeals Committee with a statement of the matter and recommendation for a sanction. The Director of Academic Affairs shall ensure that the necessary investigation and documentation is available to the Appeals Committee.

5.7 The Director of Academic Affairs shall notify the examinee that the matter is brought before the Appeals Committee. If a police report is considered, this must be stated in the notice. The student shall be given a reasonable time to comment on the matter.

5.8 All cases of possible cheating or censurable acts can in principle be met with exclusion in addition to cancellation of the student evaluation. Provision for legal assistance is therefore given as early as possible during the proceedings. It must be stated in the offer of legal aid that the fees may not exceed the Act relating to Legal Aid and the Salary Regulations. The student independently chooses a lawyer. If the attorney's fees requirement exceeds the Salary Regulations, the student must cover the difference.

5.9 The student or his attorney has the right to see the documents in the case, cf. the Public Administration Act section 18 with the exceptions stated in the Act. The right of access does not include internal assessments during the preparation of the case, but other recorded documents shall as a general rule be made known to the parties upon request. Exceptions from document access shall be justified by a legal reference.

5.10 Cases of cheating or censurable acts contain, in accordance with the nature of the case, information about the student's personal circumstances and are therefore normally subject to confidentiality for employees and appeals members, cf. Public Administration Act section 13. The documents can thus be excluded from the public cf. the Freedom of Information Act § 13. Any request for open case processing from students with protection interests according to these provisions is assessed by the Appeals Committee.

Chapter 6 Evidence Requirements and Decisions on Sanctions

6.1 The NMBU Appeals Committee addresses questions relating to matters of law and determines possible sanctions according to the provisions of the Act relating to Universities and University College covering the matter.

6.2 According to the Act relating to Universities and University College, the evidence requirements used as a basis for sanctions due to cheating must be found to be either intentional or attributed to gross negligence. The standard evidence requirement is clear and convincing evidence. The Appeals Committee shall conduct an individual assessment of guilt in each case. In cases of plagiarism, the question of guilt can in some cases be attributed to professional immaturity, especially for students at the start of their academic career.

6.3 In decisions of exclusions, the Appeals Committee shall decide whether the exclusion applies for NMBU only or for all Norwegian academic institutions.

6.4 Decisions of exclusion shall specify the time period for exclusion in such a way that there can be no doubt about the time period in question.

6.5 If the student has left or is about to leave NMBU, he/she may instead of exclusion be refused further studies during the same time period.

Chapter 7 After the decision is made

7.1 The Appeals Committee will notify the parties in the case of their decision. The Public Administration Act's rules on complaint guidance are followed.

7.2 The exclusion may in principle be effectuated from the date specified in the decision regardless of whether the decision is appealed, but the Appeals Committee may grant delayed implementation if the student appeals against the decision, cf. the Public Administration Act section 42.

7.3 The Department of Academic Affairs will effectuate the decision of the Appeals Committee when the final decision regarding annulment of the examination or exclusion from the university have been taken. Exclusion from teaching means that students are denied access to Canvas, student e-mail, student web, as well as laboratories, classroom teaching and other teaching-related services. Exclusion from the examination means that the student is excluded from conducting an oral or written examination, hand in assignments (for assessment) or otherwise submit his / her academic work for assessment to the university.

7.4 Upon expulsion from all Norwegian universities and colleges, a message will be sent to the register for excluded students (RUST).

7.5 If an examination that is annulled is a necessary part of an assigned degree, NMBU shall require that the Diploma Certificate be returned - as far as possible voluntarily, but if necessary by legal enforcement pursuant to the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges section 4-7, 5th paragraph, cf. the Enforcement Act, chapter 13.

Chapter 8 Appealing the decision

8.1 Students may appeal the Appeals Committee's decision in cases of cheating to the Joint Appeals committee, appointed by the Ministry of Education and Research, Regulations, October 10, 2005 No. 1192.

8.2 Decisions to refuse document access for persons other than students may be appealed to the Joint Appeals Committee, cf. Freedom of Information Act section 32 and Act relating to Universities and University Colleges section 5-1, seventh paragraph.

8.3 Students may bring a decision on expulsion and exclusion for trial at the district court pursuant to the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges section 4-11. Complaints to the Joint Appeals Committee must be tried first. Deadline for withdrawal of notice of the proceeding is 3 months from the final administrative decision.

Chapter 9 Criminal offences

9.1 If the Appeals Committee or the SCO ascertain a criminal offense has been committed, the SCO may report the matter to the police.

9.2 If a student is accused or convicted of criminal offenses, as mentioned in section 4-9 of the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, he or she may be excluded from teaching practice, etc. until the police case has been processed and a verdict has been reached. A decision on exclusion on such grounds is taken by the National board for certificate of good conduct, cf. regulation 31 January 2007 no. 173 on admission to higher education following the previous statement by the University's Appeals Committee. The regulation’s deadline must be observed.