NEW PLAGIARISM DETECTION SYSTEM CRITICISED BY ACADEMICS
Students and academics are branding a new Aberdeen University regulation "insulting", "draconian" and "a bit silly". This is the announcement that from next year all vegetables brought onto campus will have to be checked for plagiarism.
by Wagril Slane
Mr Reggie Strarr of the university’s Office of Superfluity told The Gaudie: "For years we have relied on our overworked tutors to check all onions, carrots and the like brought onto campus for signs of similarity with vegetables submitted by earlier students. Very occasionally we find perhaps a potato which is a little too similar to one we've seen before, for which the student is severely admonished, by reducing their grades using a needlessly complicated formula. In one case, a PhD student who should have known better tried to pass off a parsnip which very much resembled one submitted by our own Principal in the 1950s. Needless to say he got a good metaphorical kicking, well, a real one too, but you'd better not print that".
Now, however, all students’ vegetables will be rigorously examined for originality against a database. "I feel my professional judgement is eroded," said Dr Tam Verilow of the School of Social Studies. "It's usually obvious - let's say you have a seminar student who brings in the odd Charlotte potato, maybe a Jersey Royal on a good day, some weeks nothing at all. Then suddenly it's assessment time and they ask you to believe this great King Edward is their own work, well alarm bells ring, and I don't need a stupidly-named piece of software to tell me that.
The sale of mass-produced, almost identikit vegetables to students online has recently mushroomed. Some unscrupulous sellers now even deliver trays of produce to students’ doors in refrigerated vans avoiding the need for buyers to hang around the dealers’ premises waiting for them to open their doors, usually around 8am, or a bit later on a Sunday. “It’s a multi-million pound industry”, said Mr Strarr. “These vegetables are produced in a highly organised way at so-called ‘farms’. But there have also been rumours of students exchanging so called ‘organic’ potatoes and onions for cash inside our own union building. We’re going to squash that out I can tell you”
From September students bringing vegetables onto campus will have to first scan them to an online portal where they will be given a digital receipt. "The system, which is called Turnip-In, will not declare outright any vegetable is copied," said the university's Head of IT, Ms Wyn Doaz-Tenne. "It will merely be given a score out of 100 which students can then worriedly discuss the significance of with each other."
“This is really bloody stupid,” said AUSA's Vice President (Fruit & Veg), Artie Choak. “Many vegetables of all skin colours, sizes and colours of skin come onto campus every day and of course from time to time one bears a passing resemblance to another, but it's usually coincidental. So we have decided to make Turnip-In this year’s Thing We Get Slightly Upset About. Under AUSA rules, we’re only allowed to do this once a year, and of course we’re only allowed to get a little bit upset, in case we accidentally have any sort of effect. We will however be making some really nice posters about it.”
Professor Eilyke Maarps, of the Department of Geography, was more sanguine. “When I was an undergraduate, I’d never even seen a turnip, well that was because of Hitler of course. Even sprouts – one in your Christmas stocking if you were lucky, and maybe some Meccano - but you’d make them last all year. Sorry, what was the question? And who are you? Nurse!”
Mr Strarr maintained the cost of the new system will be well worth it. “With Brexit, the university sees good times ahead with hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth students flocking to campus to pay six figure tuition fees. We needed to spend this money we haven't got yet before we accidentally do something useful with it, such as save the niche degree courses like Scandinavian Studies which used to make the university unique. In fact there’s a good pun there about Swedes, but I can’t quite work it out.”