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Scottish higher education institutions signal their commitment to Academic Integrity Charter

Date: July 1 - 2022

All of Scotland’s higher education institutions have signed a UK-wide Academic Integrity Charter, developed by QAA.

In signing up to the Charter, they have demonstrated their commitment to upholding academic integrity and to protecting the global standards and reputation of higher education from threats posed by essay mills, and other forms of academic misconduct. Scotland is the second nation in the UK to have achieved unanimous support for the Charter, following Wales who obtained full support in August 2021.

The Charter was developed with support from the UK Academic Integrity Advisory Group and formally launched in April 2021. It is based on seven principles which can be used to develop institutional policies and practices underpinning academic integrity. So far, over 200 higher education institutions across the UK have signed the Charter.

Caroline Turnbull, QAA’s Acting Director of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland commented: ‘In expressing support for the Charter, the Scottish higher education sector is sending a clear message about the integral value it places on academic integrity. We look forward to working with colleagues from across Scotland to share practice on how the Charter has informed practice and stimulated conversations within their institutions. QAA will continue to work with the Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council and stakeholders across the sector to support the development of legislation to ban essay mills in Scotland.’

Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council said: ‘It’s great news that all of Scotland's higher education institutions have signed up to the Academic Integrity Charter because maintaining the integrity of Scotland’s university qualifications is critical for our collective mission of securing coherent, high-quality provision. This is a clear demonstration of the commitment in the sector to protect academic standards, uphold academic integrity and support students.’

Jamie Hepburn, MSP and Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training said: ‘Academic misconduct, and those individuals and companies seeking to encourage and benefit from such behaviour, is increasingly concerning in higher education across the globe. Although the vast majority of students achieve their qualifications entirely by legitimate means, any form of academic misconduct or cheating poses a threat to overall academic standards at our institutions.

‘I am therefore delighted that all of our higher education institutions in Scotland have signed up to QAA’s Academic Integrity Charter, signaling a clear commitment in our sector to protect and promote academic integrity.’

Alongside the Charter, QAA has campaigned extensively, in collaboration with the higher education sector, for the criminalisation of essay mills - private businesses who complete assignments on behalf of students in exchange for money. This campaign received a boost earlier this year when essay mills were banned in England with the passing of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, and conversations are underway with devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a similar ban to be introduced.