Anger over alleged cheating in medical entrance exam

The National Commission of Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Students of Morocco (CNEMEP) has called on the Moroccan Ministry of Higher Education to investigate screenshots of conversations that took place on WhatsApp groups showing medical school candidates cheating in their admission exams.

Mohammed Kacimi Alaoui, the coordinator of the commission, strongly condemned the alleged leaks in a letter sent to Abdellatif Miraoui, the minister of higher education, scientific research and innovation, on 1 August.

He said that the incident “directly affects the public image of the college and the dignity of Moroccan students of medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry”.

Alaoui has called on the ministry to “urgently” open an investigation to verify the veracity of the information disseminated on social networks and via the WhatsApp application and the allegations that, amid fierce competition for access to the programmes, cheating took place during the sit-down examination on 29 July.

Alaoui said that media reports pointed out that members of Medicine 2022, a private WhatsApp group, shared pictures of the entrance exam for the 2022-23 academic year with others, sharing answers to the exam questions.

He demanded that those involved in cheating and leaking the exam questions be held accountable. CNEMEP said it is necessary “to take all the legal and administrative procedures necessary to prosecute the parties involved and designate the responsibilities” of anyone involved in these leaks.

Alaoui also requested that the exam, where necessary, be repeated to give all applicants equal opportunities and protect the reputation of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy.

Anger over incident

The Moroccan Democratic Commission for Human Rights issued a statement on 31 July calling for “an investigation into what is being circulated on social media because of the negative repercussions it may have for the higher education sector and “the health of citizens in the future”.

Using the hashtag, #No_To_Cheating_In_Medical_School_Exam, in Arabic, the Moroccan academic and public community condemned the cheating incident, describing it as “unethical” and an action that is allowing “undeserving” students into medical school.

Several doctors and medical students have posted messages on social networks in which they accused the ministry of higher education of leaks and cheating because it organised a national examination that did not start at the same time.

Speaking to local media, Miraoui downplayed the incident, saying he is awaiting more information from security authorities.

Miraoui added that only 10 cheating cases out of 65,000 students who wrote suggests that there were only isolated cases of cheating. According to him, the alleged cheaters were identified through their phones and the use of technology.

Measures to curb dishonesty

Abdellah Benahnia, a part-time international researcher and professor at the Superior Institutions of Science and Technology, an associate college of Cardiff Metropolitan University in Casablanca, told University World News that cheating during exams, which is unethical and harmful to societies, should not be tolerated, saying: “Strict measures should be taken in order to put an end to such cheap-shot acts.”

“Universities and higher education institutions must work on adopting academic integrity policies,” he added. He suggested the use of mobile phone jammers.

“Mobile phone jammers form a kind of signal flow interference and a signal blocker in examination halls to prevent students from communicating with the outside world through mobile phones,” Benahnia pointed out.

Benahnia’s view is supported by a 2022 study entitled, ‘A systematic review of research on cheating in online exams from 2010 to 2021’.