Collusion - what is it?

What is collusion?

The La Trobe University Academic Integrity Policy (2015) defines collusion as 'a form of cheating which occurs when people work together in a deceitful way to develop a submission for an assessment which has been restricted to individual effort.'

The policy also states that avoiding unauthorised collaboration is a student's responsibility. Students must 'produce assignments independently, except when they are asked to participate in a group project requiring a joint group response to a task' (Academic Integrity Procedures and Responsibilities, 2015, p.7).

Example: Collusion vs collaboration

Situation: Two students who share the same house have been helping each other with their studies. May is good at maths and is explaining how calculations work to Bruce, who has been struggling with measurements in one of his subjects.

Bruce writes well and wants to help May, so he writes an essay which they can both submit for the same subject. May is pleased with this and makes a further contribution by checking that all the references are done correctly. There are over 2000 students doing this subject, and May and Bruce know that the lecturers won't be checking all the essays.

Is it collusion or collaboration?

Answer: May is not colluding when she explains calculations to Bruce – this is appropriate collaboration because May is trying to help Bruce to learn.

On the other hand, Bruce and May are colluding when they agree to submit the same essay. Such academic misconduct will be referred to the Academic Integrity Adviser. The penalties include failing the essay and the subject. This will be noted on student records. (see the Academic Integrity – Schedules of Responses and Penalties for Academic Misconduct, 2015).