13

I am an administrator of a university in U.K. A student has been found guilty of plagiarism and is facing the harshest punishment – 0 in the course and no opportunity to retake which will get him out of the school.

However, he is also an academic at another university. Do we need to inform the department head at his university even though it is a completely separate entity from ours? The course is different from what the student teaches at the other university.

I am concerned about the data breach and confidentiality issues. As academics do we have duty to report this?

  • 2
    Doesn't it go on his transcript as a violation? I would think he has a duty to provide all transcripts to his employer(s) putting it on him not you. – A Simple Algorithm Apr 6 at 21:21
  • 2
    He already is employed in this other university. I don't think they need to consistently provide transcripts as he's already hired. Plus this course is different from what he's teaching. – selma Apr 6 at 21:34
  • 9
    I think you need to refer to your local laws and university policies on privacy of student records. I don't have a strong feeling as to whether you have any sort of ethical duty to report this to the person's employing university, but it certainly wouldn't be such a strong duty that you should violate the law or risk your job in order to do so. – Nate Eldredge Apr 6 at 22:36
  • 2
    I wonder first of all why as an administrator you felt to ask here as for just your university should know what your behaviour must be. Also, if cheating at your university didn't involve anything that extent into more general laws violation, and all consequences were decided within the university, I do not understand why you even feel the necessity to communicate with the other university. Being in acadamia doesn't make us special individuals, nor the ones to ask for perfect behaviour. If a student is guilt of plagiarism, taking away the mark to the point that s/he must leave the school/clas – Alchimista Apr 7 at 13:45
  • 1
    ...class seams to me much enough. So your further step shall be dictated by your university policy, I don't even think you must see a lawyer. I wonder in which other environment such a doubt could have even being surging. Sorry for the long comment. – Alchimista Apr 7 at 13:49
13

This may be covered by privacy law in UK as it would be in US. You need to consult with a lawyer before you take any action that isn't already embodied in your policies, which I assume have already been vetted.

If you are permitted to inform the other university you should also consider whether you are liable to civil action if you do so. But your lawyer will have advice about that as well.

  • 6
    Good question, good answer. An interesting case where law and academic code of honour may be in conflict. If in conflict, law supersedes academic code. – Captain Emacs Apr 6 at 23:19
  • 1
    @Holla If someone were to fake data, would it not be appropriate for another academic institution to be warned of this? If the person plagiarised, isn't that not similar? That person has to mark students in their other institution and clearly does not know or respect the rules on plagiarism. – Captain Emacs Apr 8 at 12:56
  • 1
    @Holla A normal employer doesn't care about plagiarism. However, if I am a hospital and a doctor has had a number of malpractice cases (or worse), the question is, what will happen if he goes somewhere else and continues to have these, and it comes out? Who does the responsibility lie with? How about a dishonest accountant or cashier moving to another bank? Ok, an academic offence such as plagiarism is not at the same level of damage, but it constitutes a material breach of the profession's conduct. Anyway, I believe that it's the primacy of law here, so our discussion may be moot. – Captain Emacs Apr 8 at 13:18
  • 1
    @Holla, falsifying data isn't plagiarism. It is a different kind of misconduct. – Buffy Apr 8 at 13:31
  • 2
    The point is in the US there are indeed things which academics have a "duty to report", such as certain crimes reported by students. There are also things which we are bound not to ever report without a student's consent. These strike me as very particular to the country. Certainly the crushing fear of lawsuits and resulting "CYA" policies schools have piled up is probably much more of a US-centric thing. – A Simple Algorithm Apr 8 at 15:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.