Understanding academic misconduct

Academic misconduct can have serious consequences. Understand what academic misconduct is and how you can avoid this.

Academic misconduct includes plagiarism, collusion, contract cheating, and research misconduct. Learn more about these below, or to find out about what happens if there is an issue with the academic integrity of your work read about the academic misconduct procedures.


Plagiarism happens when you intentionally or unintentionally present someone else’s work, such as ideas, words, images, text, or code as your own without proper attribution. Plagiarism is academic misconduct and is treated seriously by the University. Understanding plagiarism supports you in ensuring you are producing work which is accurate and authentic.

Find out more about avoiding plagiarism (PDF).

Intentional plagiarism

Intentional plagiarism is when you deliberately copy the work of someone else and try to pass it off as your own. This includes attempting to disguise the plagiarism through the use of software such as translation software or paraphrasing software without crediting the source. This is a form of academic dishonesty.

Accidental plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism happens when you unintentionally fail to give attribution to someone else's ideas, work, words, or images. This can happen if you are not careful when you take notes or you forget where an idea came from. It can also happen if you are not careful to completely paraphrase the work you are using and citing. Take care when paraphrasing to ensure you have not just changed a few of words and see the paraphrasing advice available from Te Taiako Student Learning. Accidental plagiarism can still amount to academic misconduct, so you need to develop skills to avoid this happening.


The rules around reusing work you have submitted previously depend on your subject area. If you are reusing work which you have previously submitted for assessment, you may need to reference yourself. Check with your tutor or lecturer whether you are allowed to reuse work. If you are, you need to reference yourself.

Enabling plagiarism

If you knowingly help someone else to copy from you, that is enabling plagiarism and is academic misconduct.

This can include giving assignments to others who then copy your work or uploading completed assignments to note sharing websites and social media. Think before you share and if you are not sure, check with your lecturer or tutor.


Collusion is different from collaboration. Collusion means working with another student on an assignment or exam that you are meant to be working on by yourself. This includes dishonestly getting assistance from, or providing dishonest assistance to, another student when working on an individual assignment, or allowing another student to copy all or part of your exam, test, or assignment. Collusion is academic misconduct.

Contract cheating

Contract cheating is when you allow another person to write part or all an assignment, sit an exam for you, or allow a third party to produce work for submission that is not your own. This can be paid or unpaid assistance. It is acceptable to have someone proofread or give you feedback on an assignment, but writing or extensively editing a piece of work is unacceptable.

It is illegal in New Zealand to advertise or provide contract cheating services. However, numerous websites and services provide contract cheating and essay writing services for a fee. These websites often claim to be ‘plagiarism free’ and target students who are looking for support. Engaging with these services puts you at risk of blackmail, extortion, or serious charges. If you are caught engaging in contract cheating, you may be suspended from the University. Engaging in contract cheating can have long term impacts on your degree, and your career.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your studies and considering outsourcing your work, reach out to your lecturer, Student Learning, or the University counselling service to get help. It is far better to achieve a lower mark in your course than put yourself at risk of extortion, blackmail, or career damaging consequences.

Note sharing

There are lots of websites which encourage students to upload their notes in exchange for assignment help or study guides.

It is important that you are aware of potential copyright and legal implications of using these.

If you are uploading the work of your lecturers or tutors without their permission, you could be in breach of copyright as that is their intellectual property.

Uploading your own completed assignments could put you at risk of enabling plagiarism, which is a breach of the expected behaviours of academic integrity support the value of your degree.

These services have been blocked from the University network as they have the potential to be unethical and a number of these websites may also provide contract cheating services.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

The rules around AI use vary greatly from course to course. Your lecturer should advise you on what the expectations are for each course, and if you are not sure just ask.

Generally, using artificial intelligence in ways that interfere with your learning is likely to be academic misconduct. If you wouldn’t ask another person to do it, you probably can’t ask AI to do it.

Academic integrity is the responsibility of everyone at the University, and we all need to work together to maintain this.

There is lots of support available to help you succeed, read about Student Services and the different ways they can help.