Make sure you’re on the right side of academic integrity (and what happens if you’re not)

March 12, 2024

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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. Academic integrity is an integral part of your degree integrity.

Would you know academic misconduct if you saw it, or have you 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, academic misconduct can happen in many forms, as outlined in the  Academic Honesty and Standards and Academic Misconduct policies in the UBC Academic Calendar.

What is academic misconduct?

According to the Calendar, academic misconduct includes any conduct by which a student gains or attempts to gain an unfair academic advantage or benefit thereby compromising the integrity of the academic process, or helping or attempting to help another person commit an act of academic misconduct or gain, or attempt to gain, an unfair academic advantage. 

Examples of academic misconduct by a student include, but are not limited to: 

  • Misuse of generative artificial intelligence (genAI) tools – e.g. submitting work generated or created by ChatGPT as your own when the assignment asks for individual work;
  • 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 academic misconduct facilitated by you and implicates both of you in academic misconduct;
  • Use or possession in an examination of any materials (including devices and tools) other than those permitted by the examiner;
  • Use of or participation in unauthorized collaborative work – e.g. submitting collaborative work as your own when the assignment asks for individual work;
  • Falsifying or submitting false documents, transcripts, or other academic credentials – e.g. submitting a fake medical note for an academic concession request;
  • Submitting false records or information, orally or in writing, or failing to provide relevant information when requested – e.g. lying to the course instructor about one’s misconduct during investigation;
  • 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;
  • Attempting to access forbidden materials for assignments/exams, even if you are unsuccessful;
  • 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 breached the policy, so what?

We are an institution of learning, and our goal is to have you graduate and move into your career; however, this does not mean that committing misconduct is without consequences. The consequences as a result of academic misconduct are significant and wide-ranging. Ultimately, academic misconduct can derail your academic career and career ambitions, including getting into med school, master’s programs, and receiving your UBC degree. 

Academic misconduct may result in a suspension from the University for a period of time and a notation of academic misconduct on your record. The President may impose any disciplinary measures the President determines are appropriate for acts of academic misconduct including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • A letter of reprimand;
  • A zero on the work at issue or a failing or reduced grade (up to and including a zero) in the course in which the academic misconduct occurred or on the program requirement at issue;
  • A notation of academic misconduct on the student's transcript;
  • De-registration of the student from one or more courses for one or more terms (which may require re-application for admission to a program or Faculty) or termination from any internship, practicum or research project;
  • Suspension, cancellation, or forfeiture of any UBC provided scholarships, bursaries or prizes;
  • Denial of admission or re-admission to the University for a specified or indefinite period of time;
  • Recommending to the Senate the revocation of a degree or other academic credential dishonestly or improperly obtained;
  • Suspension from UBC for a specified period of time; and
  • Expulsion from UBC.

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 or tutoring companies that promise you solutions to your assignments or exams. 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 thoroughly read the academic integrity policy in each course syllabus. Do start your assignments early to avoid last-minute rushes. Do use the resources provided by your instructor, like office hours, and do seek clarity on assignment or exam instructions if unclear. 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, or how to navigate a difficult situation that may lead you to violations of academic integrity, ask your instructor or speak with the Ombuds Office.

How UBC is tracking people who committed misconduct

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.  

Supporting resources: Science Advising, the Ombuds Office, AMS Advocacy, Health and Wellbeing Support.

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UBC Science acknowledges that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

Learn more: Musqueam First Nation

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