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Higher Education and Research Bill - Committee (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Watson of Invergowrie Lord Watson of Invergowrie Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 9:15 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, I will say a few words in support of the noble Lord, Lord Storey. I commend him on the amount of preparation he has done for this amendment. I am very surprised at the extent of what he has revealed. I think we all know that, to a greater or lesser extent, cheating goes on—it is important to use that word—and in some cases fraud, but the extent of it is such that action needs to be taken. I am disturbed by the QAA more or less dismissing it, as the noble Lord, Lord Storey, said. And yet, as he pointed out, 17,000 students had been caught, and if that number were caught how many were getting away with it?

It is an issue that has to be addressed. Although there are means of catching cheats these days—software can be, and is, employed by universities that can spot and pick up patterns of writing—there are other ways that cannot be tracked easily. It would be helpful to have a recognition that this is a problem and for something at least to be said, if not done, by the Minister to indicate that the matter will be taken forward in a way that it has not been, effectively, up until now.