Two students and one alumnus were involved in a cheating scandal at the Florida International University. The alumnus allegedly hacked into a professor’s email account and obtained the exam paper, and the other two FIU students distributed the test to interested students for up to $150 a piece. The 30-year old alumnus, hacked the said professor’s email account back in 2012 and accessed no less than four exam papers that then distributed to anyone willing to pay for them. This is regarded as a felony in Florida and the investigation is currently under way.
The FIU cheating incident is one of many recent academic dishonesty scandals harming the reputation of universities. Cheating is not a new phenomenon, although technology offers new tools and means for doing it. Information distribution is easier than ever and tech-savvy people can obtain access to unauthorized content by taking advantage of vulnerabilities, as the FIU scandal confirms.
Other Florida universities had faced similar cheating allegations in the past, including an incident in which more than 240 University of Florida students cheated in their computer science exams back in 2012. To counteract and prevent future cheating incidents, the University of Florida is making use of advanced proctoring services that will allow for better exam monitoring. Cameras will also be used during exam-taking to ensure the integrity of the assessment.
In the meantime, investigations are still going on. The 30-year old alumnus was charged with felony theft, burglary and dealing in stolen property. The two student accomplices were charged with dealing in stolen property, as they were the ones who approached and sold the exam paper to students.
As technology advances, cheating incidents are expected to get more sophisticated and frequent. Proctoring services should evolve with technology and with each cheating incident. While unfortunate, they provide an opportunity to learn how we can better guard the integrity of an exam and protect the overall brand credibility of the university.