Harvard University is investigating a potential cheating scandal involving 125 students accused of collaborating on a take-home final exam, according to reports.
Nearly half the students in an introductory government class are suspected of jointly coming up with answers or copying off one another, sometimes verbatim.
Groups of students appear to have worked together on responses to short questions and an essay assignment, violating a no-collaboration policy, last spring.
Although no students lifted text from outside sources, some apparently plagiarized others' work, submitting answers either identical or "too close for comfort."
A teaching fellow noticed the similarities in May while grading a subset of the exams. He alerted the professor, who approached the college’s Administrative Board.
The board was worried enough to spend the summer interviewing some of the students and reviewing every exam in the class. What they found was alarming.
The Harvard students whose tests were flagged as problematic - nearly 2 percent of the college’s approximately 6,700 undergraduates - have been notified.After meeting before the board individually, some may be exonerated, but those found guilty could face a range of punishments up to yearlong suspensions.
The university also plans to bolster its anti-cheating efforts by better educating students about academic ethics. It notified all undergraduates and their parents.
Officials declined to name the course or any students, citing federal privacy laws, but the Crimson ID'd the class as Government 1310: Introduction to Congress.
The course included students from all four class years, so some of the accused may have graduated. It's unclear if they would be at risk of losing their diplomas.