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Half of Cambridge Students Cheat, Use Facebook, Google As Plagiarism Tools

A report published today by Varsity, Cambridge's Student Newspaper, found out that nearly half of Cambridge's undergraduates have "admitted to cheat" while only one in ten of the lot would get caught.

Law students came top of the poll with nearly two-thirds of them - many of whom will become top lawyers and solicitors in the country - admitting having indulged in not-so-licit activities like plagiarism.

82 percent of essay plagiarists used Internet Crowdsourcing Encyclopedia Wikipedia as the base of their work (although Wikipedia itself depends on external sources and can be modified anonymously).

The survey was carried out amongst 1,000 students and showed that Google and Social Networking websites like Google are the most used tools for plagiarisers; Google is the preferred resource for finding information while Facebook.

Consultancy Firm Plagiarism Advice told the Guardian that Universities should heavily amend their plagiarism policies with "internet working in mind".

Surprisingly, only 20 percent of those surveyed said that the university did not do enough to punish the culprits once caught.

Robert Foley, a Professor in Biological Anthropology at King's College, told Varsity that this was a depressing set of statistics - which can be explained by the fact that they feel the pressure of having a heavy workload.

Cambridge University has already said that it will introduce anti-copy software to reduce the amount of plagiarism although this could end up decimating Cambridge and other major universities.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.