FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Students who have other people complete their course work will be suspended for a semester and fail that course, according to a new policy rule at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
The university's faculty senate voted Wednesday to include "contract cheating" in its list of academic integrity violations, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
"Contract cheating" is defined as academic deceit in which students get work done on their behalf and then turn it in for personal academic credit. It also applies to UA students found to be providing work to others.
"It's a monster, just because you have the private industry essentially being willing to do online classes for people, write papers in two to three days or less than 24 hours," Chris Bryson, executive director of UA's Academic Initiatives and Integrity Office, told faculty members in March.
Students were found guilty in 310 of 455 alleged cases of academic dishonesty from May 2017 to May 2018, according to data from the university.
Bryson said the issue extends beyond commercial websites.
"More commonly than actually hiring out — at least, anecdotally, what we know — is that they're actually just paying their friends to do their work or have their mom or their dad or their aunt write their paper," Bryson said.
There is a "significant amount of outreach" to first-year students, both in courses and through other presentations, to enforce the message that hiring others to do coursework is cheating," said Mark Rushing, a University of Arkansas spokesman.
"Beyond that, the policy is another proactive step to help communicate that this type of activity is not allowed," Rushing said. "The university will post the policy online, notify academic departments, and work on a larger programmatic communication plan leading up to the Fall 2019 semester."
New cases will adhere to the revised policy, Kathleen Lehman, chair of the UA faculty senate, said in an email, with ongoing cases to follow the preceding version of the rule.
David Rettinger, president of the International Center for Academic Integrity, said that by explicitly referencing "contract cheating" and talking about it with students, he considers "Arkansas is at the cutting edge" of U.S. universities.