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Study Zone


Can cheats prosper?

Accountancy bodies have no plans to beef up their exam invigilation following reports of a surge in hi-tech cheating at universities.

June 2017

A leading national newspaper discovered there has been a 42% rise since 2012 in cheating cases involving gadgets such as mobile phones and hidden earpieces.
Among the worst offenders when it comes to cheating were students at Queen Mary University, London, Newcastle University and the University of Surrey.
There are numerous websites that openly target students with devices that can be used for cheating. Monorean even advertises itself as an online store to buy invisible earpieces for ‘cheating in exams’. A company spokesman claimed they are selling at least 200 units a year in the UK. The devices cost anything from £50 to £350 and some come with a speaker as small as a grain of rice.
MPs and university leaders have called for students to be frisked for these tiny devices before an exam.
PQ magazine asked all the accountancy bodies if they had plans to increase security at exam halls. CIMA has had only a tiny number of disciplinary cases and none involved invisible earpieces. It explained its exam centre partner, Person VUE, does not allow any personal items into the testing room and candidates have to empty their pockets to show they are not carrying prohibited items with them. The centres also have CCTV.
ACCA revealed that, to date, it had seen no instances of any student caught with an invisible earpiece. It said it had no plans to increase security in relation to such challenges at this point.
Over at the AAT there was more concern about plagiarism of other students’ assessments and collusion between students. Again, it said it had no plans to increase or change security at assessment centres at this time.
The ICAEW had also not caught anyone using an invisible earpiece. However, because many of its exams are ‘open book’ students can bring in their own materials. As a result, it believes there are fewer ways to cheat effectively in these exams, which are heavily focused on the application of knowledge and demonstration of skills.

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