Swiss high school student brings Basel to court over allegations of plagiarism

Swiss high school student brings Basel to court over allegations of plagiarism

If you copy and paste your school essays from the internet, without citing your sources, you should expect to fail or even get punished. However, one student in Basel has not taken allegations of cheating lying down, taking the cantonal authorities to court over allegations he plagiarised nearly a quarter of his high school thesis.

Student to miss out on Matura exam after copying thesis

According to 20 minuten, the student was caught copying around 24 percent of his final thesis “largely verbatim” from the internet, without citing his sources. The rector - the person in charge of the school - quickly ruled that the young man would have to miss out on Matura exams in 2022 and repeat the fourth year of his short-gymnasium.

Not taking this lightly, the student chose to appeal the decision at the local Department of Education. When that was rejected, he referred his case to the Grand Council of Basel, which forwarded it to the Court of Appeal. The student demanded that his thesis be graded and that he be allowed to participate in exams.

Lawyers representing the student argued that the rector had overstepped his authority in banning him and that the punishment was too harsh as he had “incorrectly quoted [papers], but not maliciously.” They concluded that the decision had “severely affected” his progress toward university, a job or technical college.

Swiss student can still appeal decision at Federal Supreme Court

The court ruled that, while proper procedure had not been followed entirely, the punishment stood and his appeal should be rejected. Justifying their decision, the court said that in the Swiss school system, it is "not unusual for students to have to repeat a school year due to bad performances."

Now, the student will be forced to graduate in 2023, a year later than scheduled. However, 20 minuten noted that the student still has one lifeline left: he could appeal his case at the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne, although whether the highest court in the land will rule in his favour remains to be seen.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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