Around 60 students have been suspended from Harvard University after they were caught cheating on a final exam last year.
The student exodus, which has been described as the “largest academic scandal” to hit the Ivy League school in recent memory, follows an investigation of approximately 125 undergraduates [Harvard College has a total of 6,700 undergraduates.]
Reuters reports that Michael Smith, Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, sent an email on Friday saying that more than half of the students who faced the school’s Administrative Board have been suspended for a period of time.
“Every student contacted by the Administrative Board has been informed of the disposition of his or her individual case,” Smith said, referring to the school’s disciplinary body.
“Somewhat more than half of the Administrative Board cases this past fall required a student to withdraw from the College for a period of time. Of the remaining cases, roughly half the students received disciplinary probation, while the balance ended in no disciplinary action.”
Smith added that suspension lengths varied from student to student, but revealed the minimum periods were for two semesters with the longest lasting up to as long as a year. The investigations were resolved last December.
The cheating was exposed at the end of the spring semester after a professor noticed similarities on a take-home exam that showed students colluded, even though they were asked to work alone.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, some of students accused said the college’s rules on collaboration were unclear.
In addition, the scale of scandal, described by some as “unprecedented in living memory,” may have pace of the college’s investigation says Robert Peabody, an attorney who represented two of the implicated students.
“They’re saying they took the time to get it right and make sure everyone had due process,” he said of Harvard College in a telephone interview. “They could have been much more efficient.”
“It was death by a thousand nicks. For the students who decided to stay on and fight the allegations, it was living torture.”
Post scandal, Harvard college has formed a Committee on Academic Integrity and formulated recommendations for promoting honesty among students and procedural practices for the faculty to follow.
The university has also vowed to be more stringent about its academic checks and more precise about what it expects from students.
“While all the fall cases are complete, our work on academic integrity is far from done,” Smith said.
Harvard University was established in 1636 and is the oldest and richest university in the US. Alumni include Goldman Sachs Group’s Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.