What you need to know about the new Academic Integrity Policy

We've changed the Academic Integrity Policy to simplify the framework for handling breaches and provide earlier interventions.
The University witnessed a notable upsurge in reported breaches of academic integrity throughout 2022. The shift to online learning and the continued evolution of the global cheating industry has led to increases in academic integrity breaches, which can have serious consequences for students.

Contract cheating allegations have also become more prevalent in recent years, accounting for 8 percent of allegations in 2022 and several hundred students being referred for investigation for potential misconduct.

To address the rising rates of academic misconduct and capture emerging forms of cheating, the new Academic Integrity Policy updates the definition of breach types and establishes a new framework for how suspected breaches are managed.

Read on to learn about the Academic Integrity Policy, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in assessable work, the consequences of cheating, preparing for exams and how to support your wellbeing during exam time. 

What’s changed?

The new Academic Integrity Policy took effect in Semester 1 2023. It includes an expanded section describing the characteristics of the main types of behaviour we consider to involve a breach of academic integrity, including emerging forms of contract cheating.

Breaches are also now categorised into three distinct groups: a minor breach; major breach; and potential (academic) misconduct. These distinctions will enable unit coordinators and key faculty decision-makers to respond to identified breaches of academic integrity in more context-specific way.

The use of artificial intelligence in assessable work

While the emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT present great opportunities for teaching, learning and research, it can also pose significant risks to academic integrity, particularly relating to plagiarism.

Under the new policy, unapproved use of AI content generators or tools to create or modify your assessable work is considered a breach of academic integrity. This also applies to the use of other writing assistance tools, including grammar checkers, translation and paraphrasing tools, and reference generations.

If you have received explicit permission from your unit coordinator to use AI tools in your assessable work, you must acknowledge that you have done so. Failure of acknowledgement could leave you vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism or cheating. Upon submission, you must also include a statement detailing how you’ve used AI to complete your work.

Like any other resource you use in your studies and assessments, you should approach AI tools critically, recognising their limitations in an honest and authentic manner.

Undergraduate students walking through the quadrangle at the University of Sydney

Consequences for engaging in cheating

With all of life’s pressures, it may be tempting to use technology or to pay someone else to complete your assessments. But we guarantee cheating is not worth it.

Firstly, cheating could jeopardise your studies. If you're caught cheating, this could result in failing your units of study, being suspended or excluded from your studies and delaying your graduation. If you’re an international student, you could lose your student visa.

Secondly, it's a serious risk in terms of the quality of your work. If you engage a third party to complete your assessments, you don’t really know what you’ll get. What if the person doing your work misses a major detail or gets something wrong? What if they plagiarise? You could end up severely regretting your decision.

There have also been increased reports of academic scams targeting students, where scammers claiming to work for reputable tutoring companies affiliated with the University cheat you out of your money, personal details, and education.

The University is not affiliated with any tutoring companies. If a tutoring company claiming to be affiliated with the University offers you their services, do not respond. Never submit your academic University task to a commercial service or arrange another person to complete an assignment or sit your exam.

If you have lost money, had your details compromised or suspect you have been scammed in any way, the University is here to support you. Connect with the Student Wellbeing team for free and confidential health, wellbeing, and personal support.

Students talking while seated at a table inside Brennan Maccallum Building.

Preparing for your final assessments and exams

The University has a range of academic and learning support services to help prepare you for your upcoming assessments and exams, including:

Support during exams

If you feel stressed or overwhelmed about your studies or upcoming exams, there are mental health and wellbeing resources you can access, including counselling services and 24/7 crisis support. You can also access advocacy services provided by the Students' Representative Council (SRC) or the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA).

The University is also here to support students who may find themselves being blackmailed or in difficult situations. You can report any concerns to educational.integrity@sydney.edu.au or call 1800 SYD HLP (1800 793 457) to connect with support services.

29 May 2023

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