Thailand University Struggles to Deal with High-Tech Cheating

(Photo: WIkimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: WIkimedia, Creative Commons)

A group of students were caught cheating at a university in Thailand by using smart watches and cameras hidden in their glasses in order to improve performance during their entrance exams — and now the incident has caused the exams to be put on hold for all other students.

Photos of the gadgets were shared on the Facebook page of Rangsit University rector Arthit Ourairat, who said the Bangkok school had to cancel the medical school entrance exams held on May 7 and 8. The exams have been rescheduled for May 31 – June 1. Close to 3,000 students had been scheduled to take the entrance exam to get into the university's medical school, dental school, and pharmacy program.

Cheating has taken place in the country for quite some time now, but it has reached a whole new level with the introduction of high-tech gear.

The students are accused of using cameras concealed within their glasses to film the exam papers.

Officials say the students left the three-hour exam after only 45 minutes, the minimum amount of time required to sit for the exam. After that, it is thought that the group sent the exam questions to a team at an unknown location who would then download the video. Once downloaded, the questions were sent to a problem-solving team made up of experts from various fields who would solve the problems and then pass the tests on to students still sitting in the exam room through their smart watches.

"They answered all the questions then sent text messages to those students who wanted to be in the medical department," Rangsit University's Deputy Director Nares Pantaratorn told Thai television on Monday.

The students who were caught cheating have been blacklisted by the school. The deputy dean reported that the accused students also face lawsuits and the possibility of criminal prosecution, reports Don Melvin for CNN.

Three female students were caught cheating by university staff who had been overseeing the exam on Saturday, although it is believed that a fourth could have been involved as well. The following day, three additional cheaters were caught, although they were not trying to gain entrance to the school. The students are part of a larger group who are charging students thousands of dollars for access to exam answers.

While the university plans to pursue criminal and civil action against the students, no specific charge has been added with regards to the actual cheating because no law currently exists in the country dealing with the prosecution of cheating students. This is something that Rangsit University is looking to change.

"Exam cheating is not a minor offence. It's the start of other criminal offences," university administrator Kittisak Tripipatpornchai told Al Jazeera.

"If we don't have law or tough measures to deal with this, our education system will never be competitive with other countries."

Educators report an increase in cheating as a result of an education system that bases a student's ability solely on exam scores and only uses these scores for admission into places of higher learning.

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