Harvard University is investigating whether about 125 undergraduates "inappropriately collaborated" or copied answers on a spring semester take-home final exam, the school announced today.
It's being called the largest cheating scandal in recent memory to hit the elite university and the Ivy League.
The students -- about half the class -- violated a no-collaboration policy printed on the exam, which consisted of short questions and an essay, said Jay Harris, dean of undergraduate education, the Boston Globe reports. The students allegedly collaborated through e-mail or "other means," and some may have copied their answers.
The cheating was uncovered after faculty noticed similarities among a number of exams and referred them for administrative review. All will face hearings, and those found to have plagiarized may have to withdraw for a year.
The administrative board's actions are confidential, Harris said, and the identities of the students or the course will not be revealed.
"These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable behavior that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends," Harvard University President Drew Faust said in the announcement. "We must deal with this fairly and through a deliberative process. At the same time, the scope of the allegations suggests that there is work to be done to ensure that every student at Harvard understands and embraces the values that are fundamental to its community of scholars."