Plagiarism is becoming very commonplace in today's Higher Education. The plagiarism that is detected and punished represents tip of an enormous iceberg. It is relatively easy to detect passages copied from published sources through text matching software and sooner or later the use of essay mills is discovered.
But there is much below the waterline of the iceberg that still needs attention:
Collusion: between students and between tutors and students. How far can we rely on the innate honesty of "consumer" students hourly paid teaching staff and the collusion that emanates from a "teaching to the test" mentality as this gets good feedback marks?
Lazy assessment: how many times are the same, tired, old, essays trotted out as coursework assignments? Surely examiners can be more imaginative and authentic in designing assessments? Problem based learning, case studies, presentations and artefacts are all capable of being moulded into the HE syllabus.
Better Organisation: very little discovered plagiarism is actually due to a desire to cheat or gain unfair advantage. Examiners, however, can never devine the student's intent, they only see the product. Being better organised, having a training in paraphrasing and in appropriate referencing ae often the prescription if this crime is to be erradicated.
So, let's focus on prevention rather than punishment and sink the icebarg once and for all.