600 Otago University students disciplined

More than 600 University of Otago students were disciplined last year for criminal or disorderly behaviour and dishonesty.

Their offending included electronically altering exam results, falsifying documents, plagiarism, stealing other students' work or possessions, setting couches on fire, assault, trespass, wilful damage and offensive behaviour, a series of discipline reports released by the university yesterday showed.

Just under 500 students were dealt with by university staff.

Two students who discharged firearms were among 104 granted diversion by police.

The report did not give the number of students who were convicted of criminal offences.

The vast majority of those disciplined were men.

Proctor Simon Thompson dealt with 463 students.

Just over 140 were disciplined for disorderly behaviour, up more than 60 on last year.

The large rise was almost wholly due to the toga parade during last year's February orientation, and the Undie 500 weekend in September, which resulted in police arresting more than 80 people, including more than 40 university students, he said.

Fourteen cases were considered serious enough to be referred to vice-chancellor Prof Sir David Skegg.

He permanently expelled a former health sciences student who falsified three University of Otago documents and used them to try to enrol at the University of Auckland, and excluded another 10 for one semester.

Three of those students were excluded for their behaviour during the toga parade, six for their behaviour during the Undie 500 weekend and one for twice vandalising cars while intoxicated.

Disciplinary matters against the other three students were still under way, Prof Skegg said in his report.

Mr Thompson has the power to fine students found to have broken university rules, or to order them to carry out community service, make donations to charity or pay compensation for damage caused.

His report showed 85 students were fined a total of $11,025, with 53 making charitable donations of $3270, 14 completing 200 hours of community service between them and 29 paying compensation totalling $11,331.40.

A further 290 students received warnings.

Cases of plagiarism and dishonesty dealt with by academic managers totalled 35, 11 more than in 2008.

Eleven students were from the humanities division, seven from health sciences, six from commerce, and nine from sciences.

Most students had their assignments downgraded or were given zero marks.

Two students were referred to research and enterprise deputy vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne.

Both were given final warnings and one student withdrew their enrolment.

Selected cases
• Male humanities student has leading role in Undie 500 disorder, excluded from classes for semester.

• Female commerce student attempts to set fire to armchair, Undie 500 weekend, excluded for semester.

• Former health sciences student falsifies three university documents and tries to enrol at University of Auckland, permanently expelled from Otago.

• Student plagiarises parts of ethics application for PhD research, final warning; withdraws application.

• Male health science student tries to use fraudulent document to enrol at Otago at overseas admissions centre, no penalty providing attends counselling.

• Humanities student disrupts Summer School lectures, warned, referred to counselling.

• Male commerce student intimidates others at computer laboratory, banned from facility.

• Education student, submits assignment an identical copy of essay submitted by another student in 2008, previously warned for plagiarism, disqualified from paper.

• Pharmacy student forges supervisor's name on assessment form, disqualified from paper, given fail grades for all other papers for one semester.

• Female health sciences student writes notes on hand, arm before exam, zero marks for paper.

• Computer studies student accesses database, amends several marks upwards, zero marks for laboratory work.

• Psychology student uses memory stick to copy another student's research report without permission, zero marks for paper.


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