It is also often argued that students are wrongly accused of plagiarism because they do not have the skill to reference correctly. This could be seen as unjust because the student's weakness in referencing accurately could become a hindrance to their education. Yet, this reason is cancelled out by the fact that every year Universities are investing large amount of resources, time and money in order to help students vastly improve on their referencing skills.
The harshest penalty of plagiarism and often considered as the last resort is permanent suspension of the student from the university. In such circumstances the student loses all rights to study at the University and the Tuition Fees that they have paid. Moreover, if a student is suspended, it may well be put on their record and this may deem them unfit for the sector they wish to work in. This can be illustrated in cases such as, Clark V University of Lincolnshire6 in which Clark was awarded a failure because she was accused of plagiarism.
However after several appeals the exam board agreed to remark her work but under the condition of only awarding her a third class degree because of the remark status. As a result Clark was unable to gain a career in the field she had studied because a third class degree was not high enough for the standard jobs in the field. Despite severe consequences students continue to plagiarise daily. Evidence of this can be seen in a recent incident that occurred at the University Of Kent7.
In this incidence a student admitted, "downloading material from the internet for his degree plans to sue his university for negligence"8. The student claimed that the university in question did not provide guidelines on plagiarism and had allowed him to plagiarise for nearly three years, as a result of which the student is now in a sufficient amount of debt and no degree. However as stated before, Universities have invested in very expensive resources in order to help them identify and investigate plagiarism.
Universities use softwares such as, 'Turn It In', 'Plagiarism Tester' and so on; in order to help them identify plagiarism. A severe consequence of allowing a university student to plagiarise would be the students' inability to think for themselves. It has been a great subject in the media as to how Ofsted feels that schools are not intellectually educating students with the skills they need for the future; but instead spoon-feeding them to just ensure that the reputation of the school is saved on the league table, instead of equipping students with knowledge that ensures success in the practical world.
The same concept can be applied to higher education: if plagiarism is made acceptable, students will lose the incentive to produce original ideas and will simply put together works of great philosophers, lawyers, judges, sociologists as opposed to their personal views and this could easily slow down academic progression. However it can be argued that this may not be as wrong as it sounds, as it will enable students to be able to make further advances to others works and the outcome may be positive. As the saying goes, "many hands can make light work"9 .
Therefore it is possible that by allowing students to plagiarise and make advances to others works there may be another period of enlightenment where by uniting the ideas of masterminds might lead to another revolution. Thus it may be a start towards a new era, as students will be able to put together arguments. However this school of thought is greatly flawed, because if this becomes the case, degrees will no longer teach people but instead become a costly exercise of researching and putting together ideas of many great people.
To conclude, plagiarism can be deemed as wrong in any of the circumstances. In order for universities to effectively end plagiarism they will have to tighten up on the punishments and leave no room for leniency. Universities should frequently update their software to effectively deal with plagiarism. However none of these may be a high enough cost for students to stop plagiarising thus maybe it just really is time for a new legislation to be passed; that states clearly how intentional plagiarism at university is unlawful.