Cheating: How to make sure you’re on the right side of academic integrity (and what happens if you’re not)

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Academic integrity


UBC and the Faculty of Science take Academic Integrity very seriously – in fact, it’s the foundation of what makes your education one of the finest in the world.

Would you know cheating if you saw it or were worried that you were doing it? It's not always the old-fashioned example of looking at another student's test; in this online world, cheating can happen in many forms, as outlined in the Academic Honesty and Standards and Academic Misconduct policies in the UBC Academic Calendar.

What is cheating?

Cheating includes, but is not limited to:​

  • Receiving or giving assistance for an individual assessment activity - e.g. if a friend asks you for your help on their final exam (and you help), this meets the criteria for cheating and implicates both of you in academic misconduct;
  • use or possession in an examination of any materials (including devices) other than those permitted by the examiner;
  • use of or participation in unauthorized collaborative work - e.g. taking part in a group chat with classmates during an exam to share answers
  • Falsifying or submitting false documents, transcripts, or other academic credentials;
  • Submitting false records or information, orally or in writing, or failing to provide relevant information when requested.
  • Impersonating a student to write or submit  an assignment/exam;
  • Submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once; submitting or presenting the oral or written work of another person as your own - e.g. having a friend or “tutor” complete your exam/assignment for you;
  • Other actions as listed in the University’s Academic Misconduct policy.

Whether you're taking a final exam in a gymnasium with 100 people or you're behind your laptop in your bedroom, the rules for ethical behaviour during exams don't change.

You can face tough consequences if you violate any of the rules listed in the Student Conduct During Examinations policy.

I cheated, so what?

The consequences for cheating and unethical behaviour are significant and wide-ranging. Ultimately, cheating and academic dishonesty can derail your academic career and career ambitions, including getting into med school, masters programs, and receiving your UBC degree.

Academic misconduct often results in a one-year suspension from the University and a notation of academic discipline on your record. However, disciplinary measures which may be imposed, singly or in combination, for academic misconduct include, but are not limited to the following:

  • a letter of reprimand
  • revocation of a degree dishonestly or improperly obtained
  • a notation of academic discipline on the student's Transcript of Academic Record
  • denial of admission or re-admission to the University for a specified or indefinite period of time
  • expulsion from the University
  • suspension from the University for a specified period of time
  • suspension, cancellation, or forfeiture of any scholarships, bursaries or prizes
  • a failing grade or mark of zero on the assignment or in the course in which the academic misconduct occurred.

How to maintain Academic Integrity 

Maintaining academic honesty is the easiest way to succeed at UBC and is at the crux of what you came here to do – learn. Don't share your work with classmates or help each other take tests. Don't be tempted by websites that promise you solutions to your assignments - there are examples where these sites have provided user information to UBC. Don’t participate in a study group that demonstrates unethical behaviours, such as obtaining exam answers, collaborative test taking, or copying assignments (among others). Do use the resources provided by your instructor, like office hours, and do form study groups with classmates to help each other learn the course material before the exams while maintaining academic integrity. Do turn off all other programs (including iMessage and other communications and messaging platforms) on your laptop and other devices while you're writing your exam. If you've read this article you should be well-informed about academic integrity, but if you're still not sure about what's right or wrong, ask your instructor!

How UBC is tracking people who cheat

We are committed to identifying all cases of academic misconduct and taking the necessary disciplinary action as appropriate. We are currently using all of the means at our disposal, including a variety of software tools to identify cases of plagiarism, cheating and “contract test taking.”

You are encouraged to report any instances of academic misconduct by emailing Any information about potential academic misconduct will be treated as confidential and shared only with course instructors and relevant parties. For more information about UBC's official policies, view the Academic Honesty and Standards and Academic Misconduct policies. 

To learn more about why academic integrity matters visit UBC’s Academic Integrity website.