The qualifications standards watchdog QQI have warned that there is a great risk of students cheating in college exams due to the reliance on online assessments for the upcoming year.
Due to the introduction of hybrid models of college life, with academics involving both online and on-campus studies, vigilance is key, according to Quality and Qualifications Ireland, due to a "heightened risk to academic integrity."
Concerns regarding cheating cropped up in a review on how third-level institutions could counteract the challenges faced by the education sector due to COVID-19.
This review, conducted back in March, and subsequent evaluation from the QQI found that Irish third-level institutions stepped up to the challenges afoot.
However, the evaluation also found that certain students were dissatisfied with the measures put in place following the lockdown.
Marginalised and vulnerable groups were particularly disadvantaged according to the QQI, with teaching methods and assessment cited as reasons for discontent.
QQI chief executive Dr Padraig Walsh remarked that the main takeaway from the evaluation was "a sense of confidence in the quality of the education and training that was delivered for learners under the most difficult of circumstances".
"This was vital in ensuring the integrity of qualifications they have gained during 2020, both nationally and internationally."
Also in the QQI's evaluation was an assessment that Ireland's response to lockdown in education performed well in comparison to other nations.
Commentators from Australia recognised "Ireland's superior level of supports and resources made available to international students."
The evaluation notes the institutions already have experience in deterring students from undermining their academic integrity, with measures but in place for plagiarism in academic essays.
However, the QQI stressed that, due to these exceptional times, there is a greater impetus on colleges to create a more robust framework surrounding cheating in online assessments.
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