The University of the West Indies (UWI) says it "categorically rejected misinformed allegations" recently made in the media about students cheating in exams.
On Thursday, Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner published an article titled Cheating epidemic grips UWI: Irregularities force return of face-to-face in December. The Trinidad Guardian also carried a report, UWI Cheats.
The Gleaner article was shared widely on social media with some criticising the students for cheating, while others condemned UWI, suggesting exams should be easier so students aren't forced to cheat.
It said cheating has become "a thriving culture documented across the campuses of UWI, forcing the administration to pill the plug on remote testing."
Owing to the covid19 pandemic, exams have been online.
It said 14 cases of "irregularities" in exams were recorded during the 2019/2020 semester which rose to 81 in the second semester when online testing began.
In addition, it said 98 cases were reported last academic year.
It quoted the Mona campus' registrar Dr Donovan Stanberry as saying, "Every single institution that has engaged online examinations, particularly those who do not have the capacity to proctor exams, are at risk. Human nature is such that if you do not have somebody supervising you, people will yield to their baser instincts and cheat.|
In a press release on Saturday, The UWI said, There is absolutely no evidentiary basis upon which the media reporting of increased or widespread cheating can be taken as factual."
Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said the allegations were highly offensive, inflammatory and unprofessional.
"They are not rooted in any factual evidence. Once again, ad hoc and random references are unscientifically strung together to damage the hard-earned reputation of the university but cannot stand as sound reporting. To argue that the university is a cheater and has widespread student cheating is untrue, unethical, and is an unwarranted assault on The UWI and must be rejected.”
The UWI said the systems it has in place for online learning and exams "continue to be robust," as it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding cheating.
"The university stands on the integrity of its examination processes. In this regard, there has always been keen attention to the full adherence of the system purposefully designed to monitor and identify irregularities and non-compliance. Pre-pandemic data on examinations, tracked from 2018 to present, show a mere average of less than one per cent in irregularities.
"The UWI has been conducting further investigations across all its campuses to uncover whether there are any anomalies correlated to the advent of remote learning in the covid19 pandemic. This is consistent with the university’s assessment regulations which detail a zero-tolerance policy in relation to cheating."