A total of 80 students have had their Leaving Cert results withheld over allegations of cheating by the State Examinations Commission (SEC). This marks a roughly 11% increase compared to last year, a total of 72 students.
The SEC confirmed on Thursday that 43 students results have been permanently withheld over suspicions of cheating, as well as 37 results being provisionally withheld without prejudice pending further discussions with the relevant students and schools.
Speaking to Independent.ie an SEC spokeswoman said of the 43 exam results that were withheld "This includes full results withheld, or marks withheld, from candidates found to be in breach of the SEC's examinations regulations."
Although the total of 80 represents an increase on the 72 results withheld last year, it is a notable drop from the 100 in 2016 and the 101 in 2015. It is also worth bearing in mind that 80 students is a tiny proportion of the some 57,000 students that sat the Leaving Cert.
A source from the State Examination Committee claims technology plays a large factor in whether or not students will cheat:
Over the past number of years we have seen an increase in the amount of students being caught cheating by using their smartphones. Some students have notes saved on their phones and try to use this as an aid during the exams. Some have been caught taking smartphones from their socks during examinations.
When adjudging scripts there are certain key things that markers are told to keep an eye out for to help ascertain whether they think a student might be cheating. Primarily among tehse are:
1) If your exam script is similar to a number of students
2) If a student attempts to communicate with another student or electronically.
3) If the students bring any material into the exam hall - or has material secreted in an accessible location - including examination answer books, paper not supplied by the examiner, or their mobile phone.
If students are investigated for their cheating on their exams, results are withheld with the possibility of "debarring" the student from repeating their exam. The SEC will not reveal the details of exam centers or a students identity.
Results that have been withheld are open to appeal.