Cheating policy guidelines

Cheating or attempted cheating is regarded as as breaching the trust of the university college, and is disloyal to your fellow students.

Cheating can have serious consequences for a student. Both cheating and attempted cheating (hereinafter referred to as cheating) can lead to an exam being annulled, to the student being expelled from the institution, and to the student being legally deprived of the right to take the examination at other institutions, for up to one year. Involvement in cheating or involvement in attempted cheating is also covered by law, and can also lead to exclusion.

Why do we have these rules?

  • HVL’s social responsibility – we shall strive to have high academic and ethical standards
  • Our responsibility to students – if cheating is not dealt with, it is unfair on those who achieve their grades honestly
  • We have a duty to provide employers and others with a system of evaluation that they can use as a basis for selection
  • We need to protect ourselves from individuals who threaten these interests, because it affects our credibility

What is cheating and what can the consequences of cheating be?

Before the exam, students must have access to information about which support material they are allowed to use in the exam. Students must also have access to information about the rules for quotations and the use of sources and about other matters that have a bearing on their exam. 

Rules relating to a particular exam must be stated in the course plan.

In exam situations, we set high diligence requirements for students, and each student has an obligation to familiarise themselves with the information that is provided in conjunction with each exam. If a student is not familiar with the provisions, that does not absolve them from this responsibility.

The rules on cheating apply to all submissions at HVL (required coursework, exams, evaluation memo, evaluation of practical training, etc.). For individual answers, a student’s work must be independent.

What do the law and regulations say about cheating?

The following extract is taken from Section 4-7 no. 1 of the Act relating to universities and university colleges:

(1) The following are, inter alia, considered cheating:
a. possession of examination support materials that are not permitted during the examination.
b. submission of other people's work as your own (plagiarism).
c. quoting sources or otherwise using sources in written work without sufficient reference to the source (plagiarism).
d. quoting or otherwise using own previous examination work without sufficient reference to the source (self-plagiarism).
e. obtaining access to the examination by cheating on a compulsory learning activity, or obtaining approved participation in such an activity on a wrongful basis.
f. obtaining advantages to which the student is not entitled during examination or a course.
g. non-permitted communication between students or groups (non-permitted cooperation).
h. having another person sit for the examination on your behalf.

(2) Students may be deemed to have cheated or attempted to cheat from the time the examination or assessment commences. For provisions that apply once the examination has commenced, see Section 11-13.

The Regulations are intended to act as a guide. The list of examples in Section 12-1 is not exhaustive.

Examples of what could be regarded as cheating/attempted cheating

The list of examples is not exhaustive.

1 a) Exams under invigilation, such as written exams, oral or practical exams:

The course plans and examination paper state which support material, if any, is permitted. Any other support material is deemed to be unauthorised support material. It is enough for the support material to have been available during the exam – the student does not need to have actually used or attempted to use it, for this to be regarded as cheating.

Unauthorised support material can be:

  • notes or jottings containing content relevant to the syllabus (“cheat sheets”)
  • text written or pasted in, or sheets relevant to the subject in authorised material such as dictionaries, collections of laws, etc.
  • your own rough sheets/fair copy sheets already containing rough or fair copy text
  • course textbooks or other relevant academic books that are not listed as authorised support material
  • calculators of an unauthorised type
  • electronic aids and mobile phones

It is also deemed to be cheating if you have unauthorised material available during the exam in areas outside actual the examination venue. You are also not allowed to communicate verbally or digitally with fellow students or others inside or outside the exam venue while the exam is taking place.

1 b) Exams without invigilation, such as a home exam, portfolio, bachelor's thesis, master’s thesis and other major assignments. 

Cheating in conjunction with major assignments, home exams and portfolios could for example be:

Scientific misconduct: 

manipulation of one’s own or someone else’s text or data

actions that in any other way could contribute to the student’s knowledge and skills not being tested and assessed in a manner that is impartial and academically sound (cf. Section 3-9 of the Act relating to universities and university colleges)

Plagiarism of others’ work

reproduction of content/material taken from textbooks, other academic books, journals, one’s own or others’ assignments and required coursework etc., which is presented in the text without a source reference and clear indication that it is a quotation. It is not enough for the sources to be listed in the bibliography

  • answers or text that have been taken from the Internet and wholly or partly presented as one’s own answer
  • answers that wholly or partly have been used by the student for a previous exam for which the student has received credits, without stating the source
  • answers that wholly or partly have been used by another person for a previous exam or coursework requirement
  • answers that have been wholly or partly prepared by another person for the student
  • submitted work of a practical or creative nature that has been made by someone other than the student themselves
  • collaboration that results in answers with a significantly similar content and/or structure, where individual answers are required. The answers must not be so similar that they appear not to be independent

Plagiarism of one’s own previous examination work

answers that wholly or partly have been used by the student for a previous exam which the student has passed or for which they received credits, without stating the source or providing a clear indication that they are quotations. It is not enough for the sources to be listed in the bibliography. When improving on a failed result, it is not necessary to provide source references to one’s own previous examination work in the same course. 

Use of artificial intelligence in examination papers and other written submissions

For exams and other written submissions where all aids are permitted, you can, as long as the subject teacher or equivalent has not mentioned otherwise, use AI aids such as ChatGPT. Here it is important to remember that exam answers must be prepared independently and that it is considered cheating (plagiarism) to use sources in exam answers without sufficient reference to the source.


In exams without invigilation, collaboration is permitted, unless otherwise stated in the examination paper. However, the answer must still be a student’s independent work.

The Western Norway University of Applied Sciences uses the Ouriginal text recognition software to identify textual matches between answers and other sources. If textual matching is suspected, the reports will be looked into by the examiner and the Examination Unit.

Consequences of cheating

  1. a) Annulment pursuant to Section 4-7 nos. 1a and 1b of the Act relating to universities and university colleges
  • The mildest form of sanction is annulment of the examination, test or approval of the course.
  • Annulment decisions are made by the Board of Appeals with a general majority of the votes cast.
  • An examination that has been annulled counts as one attempt.
  • The student must satisfy the coursework requirements in order to be able to resit the exam.
  • If annulling the exam means that the student no longer meets the requirements for study progression, the student may be moved down a year.
  1. b) Exclusion pursuant to Section 4-8 no. 3 of the Act relating to universities and university colleges

Pursuant to Section 4-8 no. 3 of the Act relating to universities and university colleges, a student that has cheated may be excluded from the institution and deprived of the right to sit the examination at other institutions in Norway for up to one year. These decisions are made by the Board of Appeals and must have a majority of at least two thirds.

A decision to exclude a student from their own institution means that the student cannot attend teaching or take an exam in the exclusion period specified. Furthermore, if the student has also been excluded from institutions pursuant to the Act, during the period of exclusion, the student may not take the examination at other similar institutions. Any access that the student may have to the institution’s computer system and electronic learning support system will be blocked.

How can you avoid cheating?

Do not take unauthorised support material into the exam venue. Turn off your mobile phone and put it away.

Accurately documenting sources in your text and bibliography helps the reader to quickly:

  • retrieve the sources
  • check facts and verify results
  • familiarise themselves with the subject

When you refer to sources and use them in your assignment, you are using someone else’s work. It is important for you to learn how to use these without coming into conflict with applicable copyright laws.

When you refer to or reproduce material from course textbooks, other books, journal articles, assignments written by yourself or others, government publications, websites or other sources, you must state that you have done so in your exam paper. The source reference guides the reader to the bibliography, which must provide full information about the author, year and publisher. This then makes it easy for the reader to find the source. The bibliography must be in alphabetic order.

We recommend that you read the library’s web page on good practice in the use of sources when you write an assignment.

Administrative procedure in cases of cheating

How is cheating discovered?

Cheating and attempted cheating, as well as any involvement in this, may be discovered in the exam venue by the invigilator or through other inspections there, by the examiner while marking, by the subject teacher or other person when you submit the assignment, from a tip-off by a fellow student or other person, or through the Ouriginal text recognition software. Assignments that are submitted in WISEflow are run through a plagiarism check that the examiner and Examination Unit then review. The plagiarism report is a tool that is used to detect textual matches that could indicate plagiarism, the use of unauthorised support material or collaboration with other students.

The report alone never triggers a suspicion of cheating, regardless of how high the match rate may be. The report alerts the examiner, who then investigates the answer further. It is a human assessment of the report and text that decides whether there is a basis for suspicion. For multiple choice tasks or calculations, the examiner goes through the answers manually.

  • Characteristics of cheating:
  • The text seems familiar
  • Changes of style in the text
  • Obvious variation in the academic quality of the text
  • Mixture of reference styles
  • Missing bibliography
  • Sources in the bibliography that are not referenced in the body of the work, and vice versa
  • Changes in the text format
  • Same mistakes in notations or language

What happens when cheating has been discovered?

If there is a suspicion of cheating, the invigilator or examiner reports this to the Examination Unit for further investigation.

  • The Examination Unit informs the student of the suspicion if there is a basis for a further investigation of the case.
  • The Examination Unit may opt to block grading until the case has been investigated further
  • The examiner will evaluate and grade the work, regardless of the suspicion. It is outside the examiner’s remit to conclude whether cheating has taken place or not.
  • The Examination Unit obtains documentation and expert assessments
  • If there are still grounds for suspicion, the documentation is sent to the student and the student is given the opportunity to speak to tell his/her side of the story. The student can choose to express himself/herself in writing, or not to express himself/herself at all.
  • If there are no grounds to suspect cheating, the case is closed.
  • If there are grounds to suspect cheating, the case is sent to HVL’s Appeals Committee to be processed. Once a case has been sent to the Appeals Commitee, a cheating case is formally initiated.
  • The Appeals Committe's processes the case and decides whether cheating has taken place or not, and what sanctions will be brought against the student.

For reasons of student privacy, the Appeals Committee and Examination Unit refrain from sharing decisions and sanctions with anyone other than those who have been directly involved in dealing with the case. Wherever possible, cases are kept anonymous to everyone other than the Appeals Committee and contact persons. Everyone involved in the case must observe confidentiality.

The student’s rights

The student has the right to continue their studies as normal until otherwise decided by the Appeals Committee.

During the entire process, the student has the right to see the documents of the case and to explain themselves in writing or verbally. However, the student is not obliged to explain themselves. If a cheating, attempted cheating or involvement in cheating case is initiated, the case is then sent to HVL’s  Appeals Committee for processing.

As soon as a case is brought to the Appeals Committee, the student has the right to use a lawyer or other assistant at the university’s expense. The lawyer’s fees are covered in accordance with the regulated government rate.

Decisions by the Appeals Committee may be appealed within three weeks to the National Appeals Committee. In appeals, the general rule is that the student is entitled to paid legal assistance for exclusion cases, but not annulment cases.

Any questions?