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ESU condemns jailing of students for cheating on exams

Two Spanish students are facing jail time over cheating an entrance exam for vocational studies. One of the boys was caught using the other’s ID card to take the exam under the other boy’s name. Since the two falsified public documents, they risk 12 months in jail and the payment of 6 Euros per day for the whole time behind bars.

Cheating on an exam is unfair and definitely needs to be punished in academic terms. However, this should not result in imprisonment and labelling the student as a criminal. ESU believes this is an extremely disproportionate reaction to a conduct that is obviously unfair but definitely not a crime.


Higher education is not only about learning and acquiring competences in a certain field, but also about becoming adults and active citizens. Education is a long path where a student can make mistakes, that need to be sanctioned by the university in a proportionate way. Education institutions should be safe environments where students are free to learn in class, but also from their own mistakes.

Having too harsh of a punishment at a young age might backlash on the long term with the student becoming unmotivated and/or unable to pursue their studies and have a chance to a better future.


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