A total of 10 Junior Cycle students are suspected to have engaged in cheating in this year’s State exams.
This follows the State Examinations Commission (SEC) confirming on Friday that it has withheld 10 Junior Cycle 2022 results in the subjects of Irish, Maths, History, Business Studies and Religious Education.
An SEC spokesman said that the 10 permanently withheld results include "full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC's examinations regulations".
He said that a decision to withhold a result or marks "is open to appeal”.
The 10 results withheld follows 67,130 candidates sitting the exams in June and students only received their results late last month after a two-month delay.
The 10 cases of suspected cheating follows eight Junior Cycle examinations being permanently withheld in the subjects Irish, Mathematics, History, Home Economics and Art in 2019 following the conclusion of all review and appeal processes.
Cheating in Leaving Cert
The statistics from the SEC show that students are more likely to cheat in the Leaving Cert where the stakes are higher.
Figures previously provided by the SEC show that 62 Leaving Cert students have had results permanently withheld by the SEC this year.
Concerning the issue of exam breaches by Junior Cycle students, the SEC spokesman said that “the most common penalty applied is the withholding of the result in the subject in question. Where a more serious breach of the regulations occurs such as copying in more than one subject, withholding of all results and/or debarring from repeating the examination may be applied”.
He said: "Any incidence of suspected copying, improper assistance from another party, plagiarism or procurement of pieces prepared by another party are thoroughly investigated by the SEC and the candidate is liable to have penalties imposed.
He said that the cases can come to light in a number of ways including where an examiner may detect similar work from more than one candidate when correcting work from the same centre or an examination superintendent may detect a candidate using prohibited items such as books and mobile phones or attempting to contact another candidate in the centre.
The spokesman said that the principles of natural justice are applied when following up such cases and details of the evidence available, such as superintendent’s reports, confiscated material or items, notes or work prepared that exhibits evidence of collusion, is given to the candidate through his/her school.
The candidate is invited to offer a response to the evidence presented, and the school authorities are also free to offer comment if they consider it appropriate. The final decision is communicated in writing to the candidate again via his/her school.
The SEC states that a decision to withhold a result is open to appeal and while every effort is made to conclude an investigation prior to the issue of the examination results, it is not always possible to do so. In these circumstances results are withheld on a without prejudice basis pending further communication with the schools and candidates concerned.
The SEC state that in the interest of being fair to all candidates, it must be satisfied that marks awarded have been gained fairly and will investigate any suggestion, suspicion or allegation of cheating or other impropriety in relation to the examinations.
It states that this “is essential in order to uphold the integrity of the Irish State examinations system and to underpin equity and fairness within the system in order to enable all candidates to display their achievements on an equal footing”.