TEQSA wishes to remind providers of the importance of maintaining clear and contemporary academic integrity policies and procedures. Academic integrity is fundamental to the reputation and credibility of Australia’s higher education sector. Providers’ policy frameworks should highlight their commitment to academic integrity and their expectation that all staff and students uphold, and act with, academic integrity.
Academic misconduct generally refers to a breach of academic integrity through acts such as cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification of data. The Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 Part A, Section 5.2 sets out four broad requirements regarding academic and research integrity, which state that a provider must:
- have policies that promote and uphold academic and research integrity and policies and procedures that address allegations of misconduct
- take action to mitigate foreseeable risks to academic and research integrity
- provide students and staff with guidance and training on what constitutes academic or research misconduct and the development of good practices in maintaining academic and research integrity
- ensure that academic and research integrity are maintained in arrangements with any other party involved in the provision of higher education.
To ensure appropriate action can be taken where breaches of academic integrity are identified, institutional policies and procedures need to reflect the evolving risks to academic integrity. Consideration of emerging forms of academic misconduct, such as file sharing and the use of artificial intelligence writing tools, will support institutions and staff to uphold the integrity of their awards.
Providers should regularly review and update their academic integrity policies and procedures to ensure they address new and emerging forms of academic misconduct. In 2022, TEQSA reviewed all providers’ policies and frameworks and identified that:
- Most policies include clear definitions of academic integrity breaches such plagiarism, cheating, falsification of information, collusion, third-party involvement and reusing one’s own work without appropriate acknowledgement
- Many policies made explicit mention of commercial academic or contract cheating (understood as paying a third party to complete an assessment) as a breach of academic integrity
- Only a small number of providers include clear definitions of how use of technology could constitute contemporary forms of cheating such as:
- file sharing as a form of academic misconduct, where exam questions and assignments are exchanged internally or uploaded or downloaded through a third-party platform
- artificial intelligence (AI) software or paraphrasing tools as a form of contract cheating, where substantial parts of exam questions and assignments are written by text generating software.
Practical ways institutions can facilitate an ongoing culture of academic integrity within their staff and student communities include:
- providing all students with guidance on what constitutes academic misconduct when they commence their study and ensuring that emerging threats to integrity are clearly explained
- reinforcing messages about upholding academic integrity throughout the student’s study journey
- considering, and clearly articulating, the acceptable and prohibited uses of emerging practices and technologies such as file sharing and AI writing tools
- engaging students in regular and genuine conversations about what it means to act ethically and with integrity
- recognising that staff, like students, come from diverse background and should receive clear information about the institution’s policies, procedures and reporting obligations.
A strong policy and procedure framework and ongoing commitment to a culture of academic integrity is the basis for consistent decision making. TEQSA has developed a variety of good practice resources to support institutions to uphold academic integrity:
- Good practice note: Addressing contract cheating to safeguard academic integrity
- Guidance note: Academic integrity
- Academic integrity experts advice hub
- Academic integrity toolkit
- Academic integrity in the creative arts
- Substantiating contract cheating for symbol-dense, logical responses in any discipline, particularly mathematics: a guide for investigators