I’ve been accused of cheating in a class that I passed a year ago, and since then I have proceeded to pass the next class in line after that class. This class was a first year class, I’m now in my second year and I’m unsure on what this means. Are universities allowed to revoke a class that I have passed and other that I have passed. I don’t understand why that would be going back through an assignment from a year ago. What happens to the classes that I have passed since then that relied on the class that I am accused of academic misconduct.

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    Note that revoking the class isn't the only possible form of punishment; there may be other possible disciplinary actions, such as a suspension, expulsion, a formal warning, losing university housing or other benefits... Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 9:17
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    Have you been told what particular type of cheating is alleged? If the allegation is that you allowed a student taking the class this year to copy your work from last year, that would explain the timing. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 11:42
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    So far, you have only been accused, right?
    – Polygnome
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 17:37
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    Did you actually cheat?
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 7:06
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    Are you sure this is something you want to post on a public forum with something that looks like your real name and a photo ? Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 7:08

5 Answers 5


Universities have revoked degrees and titles on the basis of fraud, years or even decades after granting them. This is certainly allowed. The bar for revoking a class should be expected to be lower so this seems perfectly fine. Of course only your university can tell you the finer details of their policies.

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    The problem with your comparison is that usually when a degree is revoked, it's because of misconduct in relation to a dissertation or other work central to the degree. If the student went on to pass more advanced classes without cheating, in my view this makes the difference between "didn't demonstrate the required competences" and "demonstrated the required competences, but violated academic norms in the process". If someone buys their BSc thesis and has their degree revoked 10 years later, but in the meantime got their doctorate the honest way, I doubt the doctorate is revoked.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 22:04
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    @Nobody as in this answer, it depends on the institutions involved. The institution which granted the doctorate may revoke the degree or refuse to revoke the degree depending on their own policies and decisions. Revoking degrees is rare, and usually the culprit doesn't have a further degree, but as the doctorate can be revoked for scientific misconduct unrelated to the dissertation (e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6n_scandal precedent), it technically could also be revoked for that in an appropriate situation; but there are also opposite examples where a later degree isn't revoked.
    – Peteris
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 22:37
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    @Peteris Interesting case, thanks. But this guy published a lot of fraudulent papers after his doctorate and even then the first court actually came to the conclusion that the degree couldn't be revoked and the university had to appeal. So I don't think it can serve as a counter example to my argument.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 22:53
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    This is like answering a question about paper cuts with a story about beheadings.
    – eps
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 17:18
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    I'm unclear what you mean by "this seems perfectly fine". It certainly isn't fine for the OP. Are you saying you find it acceptable? The OP didn't ask for opinions on the acceptability of this policy, but rather what it is. Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 1:46

That doesn't seem conceptually wrong to me. If you rob a bank but escape without anyone recognizing, you can't expect to keep the money either: If someone later finds out that you did it, you will have to return the money (and possibly go to jail) regardless of how far after the crime the discovery comes. (There is generally a "statute of limitations", but that's a different topic.)

So, by this analogy, I see nothing wrong ethically with a university reserving the right to revoke credit for a class you passed a long time ago if in the meantime evidence has surfaced that you cheated. The fact that you passed other follow-up courses in the meantime is unrelated -- you also can't say that you shouldn't be held accountable for the bank robbery because you have managed to invest the stolen money successfully: a crime is a crime, regardless of what you have done in the meantime.

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    I think that the concept of "statute of limitations" (the time period under which an offense can be prosecuted) is precisely the sort of thing being asking about. Your answer sort of equates to "Ignoring things which would limit the time, the time period is not limited." which seems about as vacuous as "If you ignore the questions I got wrong, I got everything on this test correct."
    – R.M.
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 20:48
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    I interpreted the question differently: "Are universities allowed to revoke a class that I have passed and other that I have passed [?]" reads to me as saying "I can't see how it is legal to retroactively punish me even after the class has ended". I think that it is legal and makes sense. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 21:22

Check if your university has an official policy and guidelines on academic integrity, as well as the possible penalties. Some universities and instructors teaching online are swamped with investigations into cheating, so long timescales are not surprising. I am not aware of any statutes of limitations, though some may exist.


are universities allowed to revoke a class?

Yes, and much worse, for gross academic misconduct.

I don’t believe that your entire prerequisite tree will collapse, that seems excessive, but you should discuss this with your department if you are indeed at fault.

In my university lecturers can opt for an informal resolution: in order to avoid the hassle and trouble of a formal disciplinary hearing and damaging a student’s record and future prospects irrevocably. Students who actually cheated and I have proof for it take this route. You should as well if you’re given the option (and are guilty).

Another thing to consider is whether you cheated on other classes. If you got caught in one class your department might check other classes. If more cases arise the consequences will be far more severe, and you may even be expelled.

  • Out of curiosity: what is the informal resolution?
    – Nuclear241
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 23:21
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    Informal resolution simply means that the instructor and student agreed to some penalty, and the disciplinary action ends there. If both sides agree to this (in writing) then it is applied. If not - then we move on to a formal proceeding. Informal resolutions can be % grade deduction from one's grade, failing the assignment/exam where cheating was observed, resubmitting a new assignment or stuff like that. It really is up to the instructor.
    – Spark
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 19:11
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    The obvious benefit of the informal resolution is that it does not appear on your grade transcript, and is usually not as harsh as the formal hearing's penalty. Generally, if you cheated and got caught, this is the best option you have. In my university, the infraction is noted internally, so that if there are repeat offenses a pattern can be established. If you get caught cheating once - it is strongly suggested that you stay on the straight and narrow after that - you're obviously not very good at it if you got caught :)
    – Spark
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 19:15

Prepare to attempt to challenge/test out of the class. As you passed something that has it as a prerequisite it shouldn't be too hard.

I can't help you beat the charge of cheating. I can offer advise on what to do if the class falls.

If it falls, you have a hole in your class prerequisite chain. With a first-semester class such a hole may be attempted to be filled by a placement exam for some classes, but for others they may not be prepared. If you can test out of the class in the testing center (every university has one for various reasons anyway), than that would provide the prerequisite. It also provides a way to claim "I didn't need to cheat", which only carries so far with a cheating charge but it's better than nothing.

Cheating charges aren't unbeatable, but this might be a low-energy solution compared to some other things that could happen.

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    A cheating charge would appear in your academic transcript, and that could be seen as a black mark by potential employers for at least the first five years out of university. It would be much better to fight or avoid the charge if possible.
    – user7868
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 0:39
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    @user7868: I suppose so, but I've had no potential employers ask for my transcripts. I'm not going to say you're wrong though. I just had an answer for another pathway.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 2:11

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