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Feb 02, 2013 04:38 AM EST

Harvard Punishes Students Caught in Cheating Scandal


Harvard University has suspended 60 students and disciplined others who were involved in cheating for a final exam for an undergraduate politics course - Government 1310: 'Introduction to Congress.'

This has become the largest academic scandal to hit the university.

The issue came to light when a tutor in a spring semester noticed identical answers in an open book, take-home final exam of the course.

As a result, an internal investigation was carried out by the university last year. The case was reviewed by the administrative board, which concluded in December.

Generally, the suspension period in the university extends up to two or four terms during which students' tuition payments would be refunded.

Staples founder Thomas Stemberg, a Harvard graduate whose son also studies in the university, told the newspaper that the professor who taught the course changed the rules after several exams in which 'open collaboration' was encouraged.

Even though this exam was an 'open collaboration' test, discussing with professors, teaching fellows "and others was prohibited.

"If the message was so clearly expressed, why did some of the teaching fellows go over the exam in open session ... If they did not get the message, could one expect the students to understand it?" Stemberg said.

Once the scandal broke out, implicated students alleged that course's rules on collaboration were unclear, Bloomberg reported.

Athletics caught in the cheating investigation also faced some harsh punishments. Two basketball teams' co-captains were removed from the team. Other athletes involved include members from basketball, football, baseball and hockey teams.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith told the Huffington Post that the school committee was working on strengthening a culture of academic honesty and promoting ethics in scholarship.

"This is a time for communal reflection and action. We are responsible for creating the community in which our students study and we all thrive as scholars," Smith said.

Harvard undergraduate council president Tara Raghuveer told the newspaper that there were a lot of questions about whether the take-home exam's instructions were clear enough when it came to group work exams or assignments.

Every year, about 17 students are forced to leave the University for Academic Dishonesty.

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