Harvard University, the United States’ oldest institution of higher learning and one of the most prestigious universities around the world, has not been immune from academic integrity woes. A recent survey conducted by The Harvard Crimson showed that nearly 50 percent of Harvard University freshman admit to engaging in some form of cheating on exams, homework, or other assignments in their K-12 academic years.
In 2012, a cheating scandal resulted in approximately 70 students being forced to leave the university.
Typically, around 17 students are removed for academic dishonesty in an average academic year. The introduction to congress course, where the cheating occurred, had many varsity athletes enrolled, causing even more controversy for the school’s sports program.
The Harvard Crimson survey found that of the 1,300 freshman students questioned, 42 percent admitted to cheating on homework or problem sets. Additionally, 10 percent admitted to cheating on an exam before coming to Harvard. Varsity athletes were more inclined to cheat, with 20 percent admitting academic dishonesty on exams versus 9 percent who weren’t recruited for athletics. Another 26 percent of athletes admitted to cheating on take home assignments or papers.
Harvard University comes with certain pressures to gain acceptance, and high levels of cheating amongst incoming freshman should come as no surprise since a Harvard degree most often equates to greater success after graduation. About 82 percent of those surveyed identified their greatest source of pressure as their own expectations. Many of the respondents were involved in extracurriculars as high school students with 84 percent involved in community service.
Academic integrity has also been a staple of education. Cheating has been around for centuries and likely will not be stamped out anytime soon. What it comes down to is a battle of technology. Could some some of these instances of cheating been prevented if online exams were monitored by proctors?