When I informed this student that I suspected her paper was plagiarized, she said to me, “I got my paper from one of the students who was in your class last semester. How was I to know that she had plagiarized?”Back when I was an undergraduate, copying was treated fairly cavalierly—it was of course wrong, but students will be students and all that, so if caught out, typically you would just be asked to redo the exercise. Over time the attitude has become much stricter and these days I understand students can be suspended for up to six months for cheating. I don’t know if this is a reaction to increased cheating or just a sign of harsher times. Certainly there is increased pressure on students to graduate on time.
Anyway, once upon a time, long enough ago that I believe it has been statute-barred, we had a mandatory course in business administration which was considered to be neither well taught nor very interesting. During this course we were to do a group project, working out the economics of some process of a fictitious company. The parameters were different for each group, but we figured out that they were reused from year to year. It was decided in my group that we would ask the students from the previous year to give us their report, retype it and present it as ours. The seniors kindly handed over their report and I ended up with the task of retyping it. Now, already then I had proofreader’s eyes and while I was copying the text I realised that the calculations were off: our predecessors had made a sizable arithmetic error. Still, they had passed, so apparently the grader had not read through the report very carefully. (The problem admitted many different solutions, depending on what assumptions and prioritisations you made.)
I mulled this over for a minute or two, but decided there was only one thing to do: Start over and do the calculations right. And so I did. Our group passed too.