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Welsh universities demonstrate their commitment to academic integrity by signing QAA Charter

Date: August 19 - 2021

All universities in Wales have now signed up to QAA’s Academic Integrity Charter. In signing up, the universities have demonstrated their commitment to protecting academic integrity and combatting the threat posed by essay mills and other forms of academic misconduct. Wales is the first nation in the UK to have achieved unanimous support for the Academic Integrity Charter among its universities.

The Charter was developed with the support of the UK Academic Integrity Advisory Group, and formally launched in April 2021. It sets out seven principles that signatories commit to implementing with their institutions and has received support from UK Government Ministers.

Academic misconduct is a growing threat globally and presents a risk to the world-class reputation of the UK’s higher education sector. It takes a wide variety of forms including the use of essay and degree mills, plagiarism, collusion between students, and forged or altered qualification certificates.

By signing up to the Charter, universities and colleges are demonstrating a sector-wide commitment to the promotion and protection of academic integrity. The Charter’s seven principles will help providers to develop their own policies and practices to ensure that each student’s qualification is genuine, verifiable and respected.

The seven principles are:

  • All members of a higher education provider’s community are responsible for embedding and upholding academic integrity.
  • Taking a holistic ‘whole community’ approach, covering all provision.
  • To work together as a sector.
  • To engage with and empower students.
  • To empower and engage with staff.
  • To have consistent and effective institutional policies and practices.
  • To take responsibility as autonomous institutions for promoting and maintaining the quality and integrity of provision, and securing the academic standards of awards.

Alastair Delaney, QAA’s Director of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: ‘It is hugely encouraging to see the individual and collective commitment to the promotion and protection of academic integrity among Wales’s universities. So far, 171 universities and colleges across the UK have signed up to the Charter. QAA will continue to work with higher education institutions across the UK to address the risks posed by academic misconduct, and to support the development of legislation to combat essay mills.’

Harriet Barnes, Director of Policy and Funding at the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), said: ‘We welcome the news that all of the higher education institutions in Wales have now signed up to the Academic Integrity Charter. This shows how serious our HE sector is about maintaining not just its standards but also its reputation. As universities move towards the new academic year and welcoming new and returning students, it is vital that the whole community is empowered to understand and uphold academic integrity. Therefore, HEFCW has asked QAA to support the Welsh Integrity and Assessment Network, which is sector owned, for institutions to enable collaboration and sharing of best practice.’

The new network is funded by HEFCW and will be co-chaired by Professor Michael Draper from Swansea University and Dr Mike Reddy from the University of South Wales who are both members of the UK Academic Integrity Advisory Group. QAA will support the establishment of the new network amongst Welsh higher education institutions, working with the network’s co-chairs to identify members for the group and to provide support for meetings.

Professor Michael Draper and Dr Mike Reddy said: ‘The establishment of the Welsh Integrity and Assessment Network by HEFCW, supported by QAA, demonstrates the commitment of the Welsh higher education sector to the enhancement of integrity in assessment and awards, ensuring their continued value to students, employers and other key stakeholders.

‘At a time when assessment and institutional awards are facing significant challenges, the network will support collaboration and dissemination of quality assured best practice across the Welsh education system including the championing of the sector enhancing principles of QAA’s timely and relevant Academic Integrity Charter. The network will be led by representatives from across the sector with extensive academic and practical experience of academic and assessment integrity.

‘Coupled with the positive news that all Welsh universities have signed up to the Academic Integrity Charter, it is clear that Wales is leading the debate over the evolution and validation of assessment in the 21st century.’

UK higher education institutions can view and sign up to the Academic Integrity Charter on QAA’s dedicated webpage.