Assistant Editor Katie Beck has been part of the Epigeum team for two years, working across a range of programmes, including Academic Integrity, which published earlier this year, and Being Well, Living Well, which will be released in 2020.
Along with my colleague, Senior Learning Consultant Nick Broom, I was delighted to represent Epigeum at the 2019 Plagiarism Across Europe and Beyond Conference, which was held in the historic city of Vilnius in Lithuania from 19-21 June. The three-day event was attended by representatives from institutions across Europe, as well as the USA, Canada, India, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. In my role as Assistant Editor for our recently published Academic Integrity programme, I was fascinated to hear about the steps being taken to actively promote academic integrity principles on campuses around the world.
Delegates had the opportunity to attend close to 40 sessions during the conference, covering a huge range of topics including plagiarism, contract cheating, collusion, honour codes, and advice on implementing ethics infrastructures. The format of these sessions ranged from key note speeches to small workshops and expert panel discussions, with many sessions running concurrently. There were some difficult decisions to make about which sessions to attend!
The conference also gave us the chance to catch up with a number of the authors and reviewers involved in the creation of Academic Integrity, and it was wonderful to hear about the strides they are making in this important area.
One of the key topics of discussion was the growing sophistication of contract cheating services. Academic Integrity author, Dr Thomas Lancaster, revealed how these services are becoming increasingly specialised, even offering profiles of writers so students can see their experience and areas of expertise. Students are also now able to request the same writer for multiple assignments which makes it harder for software to pick up clues that cheating might be taking place, such as change of writing style, etc. Fascinating!
Another idea that was regularly discussed was the need for academic integrity principles to be introduced much earlier in a student’s education; ideally at primary school level but at least secondary/upper school. Delegates agreed that while we are making progress in encouraging the adoption of academic integrity principles in higher education, there is still work to be done to improve student understanding of the importance of behaving with integrity in all areas of their life. It was agreed that, as with so many other things, the earlier children are introduced to academic integrity concepts the better!
There was a collaborative atmosphere at the event, with delegates swapping advice and best practice ideas drawn from their own experiences of working with students. A number of delegates gave presentations on how they have implemented procedures to handle academic misconduct charges at their own institutions – offering an invaluable insight into how these issues are being handled by teaching and academic support staff “on the ground”.
Mindful that many delegates were visiting Vilnius for the first time, the conference organisers put together a series of evening trips to some of the area’s most famous sights. One of the highlights was a visit to Trakai Island Castle, built in the centre of Lake Galvė in the 14th Century. A guided tour revealed the fascinating history of its construction, as well as an insight into the long and complex history of Lithuania.
We were also lucky enough to receive a guided tour of the beautiful city of Vilnius itself, and spent an interesting evening exploring the eclectic artists’ district of Užupis. We took the opportunity to sample some of the local delicacies such as beetroot soup, potato pancakes, and kibinai, a delicious snack that is very similar to a Cornish pasty. I can heartily recommend giving them a try!
The conference was jointly organised by Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Mendel University in Brno, and the European Network for Academic Integrity. Many thanks to them for a great three days full of new experiences and connections!
Developed in collaboration with over twenty higher education institutions, this interactive, online programme facilitates a consistent and unified approach to academic integrity training – ensuring clarity and confidence among both staff and students in order to minimize the risk of academic misconduct.
To find out more, or request free trial access to the programme, please get in touch with us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.