A PROBE into plagiarism at a third-level college has run up bills of almost €250,000.
In April 2011, the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) started an external inquiry into how it dealt with complaints about plagiarism. The incident in question has already been the subject of three internal inquiries.
The case involved a final-year student at the GMIT School of Business who gained access to an instructor's manual that contained sample answers to questions. The manual was supposed to be only accessible to staff with a special computer password.
This latest investigation was to focus on whether "any relevant matter was suppressed, concealed or covered up by the department, school or institute, or any member of staff".
The GMIT probe has now been under way for 20 months and has yet to complete its report. It has amassed a bill of €224,676 to October of this year.
Figures seen by the Irish Independent show that the vast bulk of the cost went to covering the salary of one of the two members of the investigation panel.
Barrister and mediator Ed Madden was paid €112,172 in fees for conducting the investigation. The second member of the investigation team, Professor Bairbre Redmond, received €41,153 for her work.
Defending the cost of the probe, a statement from GMIT read: "While the cost of the investigation into certain matters at GMIT is significant, it should be noted that the matters being investigated not only relate to an incidence of plagiarism but call into question the reputation of the institute.
"GMIT wishes to ensure that all related matters are fully and comprehensively investigated so that the public will have confidence in the academic integrity of GMIT and, if failings have occurred, that such failings would be identified and rectified. In this context, the institute believes the costs incurred are necessary to achieve these objectives."
The college added that it expected the investigation to be concluded in early 2013, adding: "GMIT believes the costs should be judged in the context of the findings of the independent report."
A further breakdown of costs shows that legal fees for the probe came to more than €45,000.
A total of €24,168 was paid to Hayes Solicitors, who were legal advisers to the investigation team, while a further €21,872 was paid to Arthur Cox Solicitors for legal advice to the institute.
On top of this, €22,759 was paid for stenography services, while €2,551 was paid for room hire.
The college has already taken disciplinary measures against a lecturer in relation to the incident. The student was found guilty by an internal inquiry and had marks deducted, but was still able to graduate.