Med school students in South Korea caught cheating on online exams during coronavirus pandemic

More than 90 med students were caught cheating online, school officials said.

June 3, 2020, 3:53 PM

SEOUL, South Korea -- A medical school in South Korea is making students take final exams in person after it says the majority of its freshman and sophomore class was caught cheating on tests that were being administered online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than ninety students -- 83% of the freshmen and sophomores at Inha University's School of Medicine in Incheon -- were found to have been taking advantage of remote learning arrangements to cheat on online exams since March, school officials said.

The students organized themselves in groups of two to nine to solve test questions together and share answers online, the school said. Students intentionally answered some questions differently to avoid being detected.

"Some of us did expect this to happen because no one is out here to monitor us when taking tests or attending classes," Mary Cho, a senior at the university, told ABC News. "We doubted the level of transparency of online midterm exams earlier before this incident was officially reported."

A teacher gives an online class at school, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Seoul, South Korea, April 9, 2020.
Heo Ran/Reuters, FILE

"Exams are to help students develop skills in their major, so it's difficult to imagine students cheating," said Sogang University professor Seong Bongjoon, whose students heard about the incident and wanted to make sure their school ensured a level playing field.

"Since some students expressed concern, I suggested additional measures such as randomly interviewing top-scoring students to double-check their abilities," Bongjoon said.

Officials at Inha University have formed a disciplinary committee to address the cheating. All students determined to have cheated are being given zeros and must perform community service and receive counseling from professors in charge, officials said.

Government officials told ABC News that the responsibility to address cheating lies with the schools themselves.

A college student at Sogang University is taking an online course in South Korea.
Heejin Kang

"In the case of exams, it is a matter of autonomy in relation to the university," an official with the Korean Council for University Education told ABC News. "If there are recommendations or guidelines related to cheating on online exams announced from the Ministry of Education, we can provide guidance, but it is not an issue that the council can address separately."

Although Inha University officials expect the switch from online exams to in-person testing will eliminate any further cheating, the move is not without risk. Three students from nearby Gachon University tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in in-person midterm exams at the school.

Gachon University officials originally planned to combine online and in-person lectures for classes under 30 students starting June 1, but decided to stay with online-only classes after the outbreak.

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