Thursday 22 February 2018

€350,000 college cheating probe may never be released to public

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A PROBE into plagiarism at a college which has cost over €350,000 and taken over two-and-a-half years to complete may not be made public.

The inquiry into cheating at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) will be given to the college president next week.

Yet despite the time and money spent, it is not yet clear whether the entire report will be made public.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn told the Dail the college had a "publish policy" regarding such matters. However, a spokesman for the college said no final decision had been taken.

A spokeswoman for GMIT confirmed that the cost of the probe to August 1 was €352,693.

"The report has now been completed and a hard copy will be given to the president next week. He will then take time to consider it and a decision will be taken on whether the report will be made public," she added.

PLAGIARISM

A source close to the matter said the main concern with publishing the report was any potential litigation.

"It all depends what the report says. They are trying to avoid a situation where there is any litigation from anyone named in the report," the source added.

The matter was raised in the Dail this week by Galway TD Colm Keaveney. He criticised the time taken in the probe and described the cost of the investigation as "a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money".

"It's now into its third year. It's time for closure on this matter, time to improve the reputation, the damage that has been caused to GMIT," he said.

Mr Quinn described the issue as a "serious matter". He said he understood that the issues were complex and the college expected the final report shortly.

The external inquiry began in April 2011 into how GMIT dealt with complaints of plagiarism.

It followed an incident in which a final-year student at the School of Business gained access to an instructor's manual containing sample answers to questions. It was supposed to be accessible only to staff using computer passwords.

That incident has already been been the subject of three internal inquiries.

Disciplinary measures were taken against a lecturer in relation to the incident. The student was found guilty by an inquiry and had marks deducted, but was still able to graduate.

A previous internal inquiry found that the school of business should have treated the allegation as a "major" case of plagiarism, instead of as a "minor" one.

Irish Independent

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