GMIT launches new external probe into cheating allegations

GMIT launches new external probe into cheating allegations

Governing body orders unprecedented inquiry

By Dara Bradley

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has launched an unprecedented external investigation into an incident of cheating at the college, the Connacht Sentinel can exclusively reveal.

The governing body will obtain the services of two senior academics from two other Irish third level institutes to conduct the investigation into a case of plagiarism in the School of Business.

Senior academics and management at the Dublin Road campus will be interviewed and asked to provide statements to the investigation team, which will probe, among other things, whether information regarding the incident was “suppressed, concealed or covered up” by anyone within GMIT.

The incident in early 2010, which was revealed in our sister newspaper the Galway City Tribune last December, involved a final year student who obtained an instructor’s manual – which contained model answers to assessment questions – and used the material to cheat.

The instructor’s manual is legitimately accessible by academic staff online only and is protected by a password. It is alleged the password was passed by the lecturer to the student.

This external investigation – believed to be the first ever external inquiry into plagiarism to take place in GMIT and only the second ever inquiry into plagiarism in any third level institute in the state – will be the fourth actual inquiry into this incident of plagiarism to be undertaken at GMIT.

The scope of the external investigation, which will be conducted by Professor Bairbre Redmond of UCD and Mr Ed Madden of NUI Maynooth, includes:

1) the manner in which the (plagiarism) complaint made and suspicions communicated by Lecturer X were dealt with by the Department, School and Institute,

2) if shortcomings are found in the manner in which the complaint and suspicions were dealt with as aforesaid, the reasons for any such shortcomings,

3) whether any relevant matter was suppressed, concealed or covered up by the Department, School or Institute or any member of the staff of the Institute,

4) whether the Institute’s procedures for dealing with complaints or suspicions of plagiarism are adequate or could be improved on.

The investigators, according to the terms of reference, will interview senior personnel within the college including the Heads of Department, Head of School, Registrar, HR Manager, the members of the student disciplinary committee, the Chair of the Masters in Business in Strategy and Innovation Management Programme and “any other person whom the investigation team might consider relevant will also be requested to provide statements.”

The report into the investigation is expected to be completed by the end of this college term. It is understood the scope of the inquiry could be expanded to include other instances of plagiarism within the college and School of Business.

Connacht Sentinel – April 5, 2011

College staff asked to raise standards concerns


LORNA SIGGINS, Western Correspondent

GALWAY-MAYO Institute of Technology (GMIT) has confirmed its acting president has invited staff to raise any concerns they may have about academic standards.

Acting president Jim Fennell invited staff to contact him, the registrar, members of the academic council, or heads of department/school on the issue in an e-mail circulated on December 21st last.

Mr Fennell, who has been the college’s financial controller, told staff he had also expressed his concerns about “an incident of plagiarism” which occurred in the 2009-2010 academic year and has asked the registrar to review the case.

The incident, which was reported in the Galway City Tribune last month, relates to the alleged use of an instructor’s manual by a masters student.

The manual, which includes model answers to questions, is restricted to lecturers only.

The student graduated last autumn.

The college has been the focus of recent controversy over its handling of other alleged incidents of plagiarism, and use of the appeals procedure by students to increase marks.

However, it has said it is satisfied all procedures were followed, and is not conducting any formal investigations at this point.

Mr Fennell told staff in his e-mail that he had asked the registrar to place the issue of academic standards and quality assurance on the agenda of the next academic council meeting this Friday.

The role of the academic council is to advise the governing body on the planning, co-ordination, development and overseeing of educational work at the college, and to protect, maintain and develop academic standards of courses and activities at the college.

The Higher Education and Training Awards Council said it had been in touch with the GMIT authorities recently in relation to quality issues, and was satisfied that it did not have a role at this point.

The institute is primarily responsible for its own quality assurance.

The awards council’s periodic review of GMIT is due to be published in several months’ time.

GMIT is based at five locations in the west of Ireland. Its main campus is based at Dublin Road, Galway.

It also has a campus in Castlebar, Co Mayo, with smaller facilities in Letterfrack and Mountbellew in Co Galway and in Cluain Mhuire in Galway city.

It is involved in a range of research activities involving collaborations with other higher education centres, as well as industry.

GMIT also provides a range of consultancy services, working in partnership with business and community organisations to provide higher education throughout the region and to promote economic, social and cultural development.

The Irish Times – Wednesday, January 19, 2011




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