Students in China who are found to be cheating on their college entrance exams now face criminal charges of up to seven years in prison.
The new rule was confirmed as 9.4 million students in the country prepared to take the exam, called the gaokao, which has been in use since the Cultural Revolution. Students put all their efforts into studying for the June exams, with wealthier parents paying thousands for tutoring and prep courses.
In an effort to put a stop to instances of cheating, test monitors in Ruijin, east China's Jiangxi Province, were even found using devices in order to scan the shoes worn by students as they entered the exam room. Additional devices were used to block any wireless signal that students may have been trying to use to share answers, writes Aftab Ali for The Independent.
Across the nation, police offers were sent to testing centers in order to watch for "suspicious behavior." Beijing had an average of eight policemen at each location.
The gaokao exam is used throughout the country to determine which students will continue their education at the university level. However, the agency said that the allegations of cheating occurring between teachers and students has resulted in a drop in the reputation that the exam holds.
"Safeguarding fairness in the gaokao and education, in general, is the baseline for China to maintain social justice," said Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing.
While parents around the country had both positive and negative views of instituting prison time for cheating, one educationalist pointed out, "To fully eliminate cheating, not only must the punishment be strengthened but also the admission system must be reformed," writes Max Bearak for The Washington Post.
Countries around the world have begun to crack down on instances of cheating, particularly with the introduction of the Internet and digital age.
Last month, a group of prospective medical students in a Thai university made national headlines after they were caught using high-tech gadgets such as "spy movie-style glasses" that had cameras inside as well as smartwatches to cheat on their entrance exams. As a result, the school was forced to cancel the exams.
The university has announced that the students in question have been blacklisted from the school. According to local media, the students will be appearing at a police inquiry.
Just this week, 85 students at Ohio State University faced disciplinary action as the result of their cheating on a test. An investigation carried out by university officials uncovered that the students involved had been sharing answers to an online take-home test.
Meanwhile, universities in Britain have been found to be involved in a "plagiarism epidemic," the result of an investigation by The Times newspaper earlier in the year that revealed that close to 50,000 students had been caught cheating over the last three years.
The highest number of academic misconduct cases in the UK were found at the University of Kent, with a total of 1,947. According to a university spokesman, "robust systems" were being used by the school in order to find out if anyone was trying to cheat, adding that the university "will not tolerate academic misconduct."