Consequences of plagiarism & cheating

Updated February 21, 2017

Plagiarism and cheating is a problem that is present at every college and university. Students often plagiarise or cheat due to stress or some other extenuating circumstance. Regardless of the reason for plagiarism or cheating, it is a serious offence with serious consequences. Although policies differ from school to school, there are some general consequences that are present at most educational institutions.

Academic Probation

Although some universities have a zero-tolerance policy, meaning if you cheat once then you are expelled, many schools start by giving the student a warning and placing him on academic probation. This will most likely include a written warning that goes on file at the office of student affairs. Probation shows the student the seriousness of the offence, and that subsequent offences will be taken much more seriously. The student will also likely receive a failing grade for the assignment.


Suspension is a common consequence of plagiarism and cheating. If the university decides that a student deserves suspension, the student will receive a written notice of suspension. A suspension lasts for a period of time that is often determined by the seriousness of the offence. During this suspension period, the student will likely not be able to submit assignments, and he will receive failing grades on all missing work. The university also outlines conditions for reinstatement to the university. One example is a requirement for the student to write a formal letter of appeal to be reinstated into the university. Students may also be required to pay a monetary fine and sign a contract that outlines the consequences of future offences as conditions for reinstatement.


Expulsion is the most severe consequence of plagiarism and cheating. Expulsion, unlike a suspension, is a permanent action. Although the university may apply conditions for a student to be readmitted, he cannot reapply or be readmitted to a school after he has been expelled. This consequence is especially damaging because it is added to student transcripts. Therefore, when a student seeks admission at a different university, he will have to explain the expulsion to the admission board.

Criminal Punishments

Plagiarism can occur outside of the academic realm. Stealing someone's intellectual property without properly attributing the original source is considered illegal. Most plagiarism cases are considered misdemeanours, with fines anywhere between £65 and £32,500. However, if someone makes more than £1,625 off plagiarism, this is considered to be a felony, with fines up to £162,500 and up to 10 years in jail.

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About the Author

Art Corvelay is a freelance writer for demand studios who has been writing and editing for five years. He holds a Ph.D. in technical communication and teaches courses in writing and editing at the university level.