Photo: Joachim Rode

DTU—first in Denmark with student code of honour

Wednesday 06 Dec 17


Philip John Binning
Senior Vice President, Dean of Graduate Studies and International Affairs
Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs
+45 21 73 83 09
As the first Danish university, DTU will hand responsibility for not cheating over to the students.

Should we take steps to ensure that students do not come into contact with the outside world during an exam, thereby making it impossible for them to cheat? Or should we trust them to submit independent work, even though it is technically feasible for them to get outside help?

As of the academic year 2017/18, DTU has adopted the latter approach. When students begin their studies at DTU, they sign a code of honour, thereby declaring that throughout the academic year—and during exams—they will work independently and not copy the ideas and thoughts of others without clearly indicating their source.

“Rapid technological development poses a challenge to our examination form, and monitoring students and equipment to prevent cheating can prove a costly business. But an equally important argument for assigning responsibility over to the students is that we want to prepare them for the reality they will face in the job market,” says Dean Philip Binning.

“In the workplace, it’s completely normal to delegate tasks in the belief that the individual employee will solve them in accordance with the company’s ethical rules. Responsible self-management is how we want to educate our students.”

First in Denmark
As yet, DTU is the only Danish university to accord its students such a vote of confidence—however, the approach is not uncommon elsewhere in the world. Among others, universities such as Princeton in the USA have for several hundred years charged their students with ensuring compliance with rules for academic integrity. In fact, here students are under obligation to report cheating if they become aware of it.

Initially, DTU has not chosen to go this far, and all electronic submissions will still be screened though Urkund—Sweden’s foremost anti plagiarism service—to detect any attempts at cheating.
“Monitoring will not disappear completely, and if we discover cheating, we will come down hard on the offender and impose sanctions—which may ultimately lead to expulsion from the University. However, on the basis of the feedback I’ve received from the students, I expect full support for the new culture. I’m also looking forward to seeing the lecturers exploit the new possibilities—e.g. by allowing the students to complete assignments at home or under less restrictive conditions at the very least,” says Philip Binning.

The introduction of the new code of honour coincided with this year’s summer intake—and at the study start exam in October—students not only had to confirm their study activity and prepare a study plan, but were also required to accept DTU’s code of honour by completing a quiz with five questions about what the code entails. Students cannot fail the quiz—it simply cannot be completed until they have answered all the questions correctly.

New MSc Eng students and all students who are enrolled before the autumn of 2017 must complete the quiz and thereby accept DTU’s code of honour when registering for courses in the spring semester 2018.

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