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Paul Turner, executive officer of the Council of Deans of Health, talks to NT about essay plagerism

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A three-minute interview with Paul Turner, executive officer of the Council of Deans of Health, on contract cheating among student nurses.

NT: What’s your response to the findings of our story, where we were able to commission nursing degree essays to essay writing services?

PT: This is a problem that affects the whole of the education sector, not just nursing. But there are a number of approaches universities have in response to the threat of plagiarism.

NT: Could you tell us what the universities can do to prevent contract cheating?

PT: One is to ensure all groups of students know that they must only hand in their own work. They are told that this relates not just to their academic integrity but also their professional integrity.

Academics should also set work that requires students to reflect on their own clinical practice, as this reduces the risk that students can commission their essays out to third parties.

There should also be regular contact between students and academics, who should see work in progress and should thus detect any sudden change of style or standard of work.

NT: What risks are there if this kind of cheating gets worse?

PT: There is a danger of a return to unseen examinations, which many people think is not a good thing from an educational perspective. Universities like to have a combination of unseen examinations and course assessments to get a complete approach to course assessment.

But universities are aware of the issues are taking a number of measures to ensure students’ work is indeed their own.

Interview by Richard Staines

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