Survey: 42% of incoming Harvard freshmen have cheated on homework

This post has been corrected, as indicated below

Well, that’s one way to get into an Ivy League school.

According to an email survey of more than 1,300 incoming Harvard students, the Harvard Crimson reports, 10% of the campus’ new freshman class have cheated on tests and 42% have cheated on homework.

That’s probably going to be unwelcome news for the 377-year-old university, which is still recovering from a 2012 scandal in which more than 100 students were accused of cheating on a take-home exam for an introductory-level class on Congress.

Then, in March, Harvard Quiz Bowl teams that won four championships between 2009 and 2011 also had wins vacated because of a cheating scandal involving one student.


The Crimson’s survey also reported that 8% of the incoming class expected to get jobs in the finance industry.

[Updated at 10:21 p.m.: “Even though this is a national problem, the numbers reported from the student newspaper’s informal survey align with the decision Harvard College made last year to take action,” Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal said in an email, adding that the school was addressing cheating through faculty and presentations to students, with a joint committee also addressing cheating. “At the end of this process, we hope that Harvard will not only continue to beat national averages in reports of cheating, but also strengthen Harvard’s culture of integrity, in which cheating is the rare exception.”]

In the Crimson’s findings on cheating, athletes were roughly twice as likely to cheat as non-athletes, with 26% of recruited athletes responding that they had cheated on a paper or take-home assignment before arriving at Harvard. (That figure was 16% for non-recruits.)

The first line of Harvard’s policy on academic dishonesty states that “All work submitted for credit is expected to be the student’s own work.”

“Plagiarism or falsification of research results will ordinarily result in a requirement to withdraw or expulsion,” the policy states.

[For the record: 11:16 p.m., Sept. 5: An earlier version of this post said the Harvard Crimson’s survey found that 80% of the incoming class expected to get jobs in the finance industry. Actually, the figure is 8%.]


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