University turns away from Turnitin

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Fraser McGowan
Editor

Glasgow University will cancel its Turnitin licence, if its trial of rival software Urkund proves to be a success, The Glasgow Guardian understands.

After experiencing what have been described as “operational difficulties” with Turnitin, a plagiarism detection service, Glasgow is the first Russell Group university to sign up to Urkund, a Swedish rival of Turnitin. 98 per cent of the UK’s higher education institutions currently have subscription to Turnitin.

Currently, the University is using both services, but The Glasgow Guardian understands that Glasgow University will relinquish its Turnitin licence if Urkund proves effective. According to Urkund, it is discussing prices with three other UK universities, and six others are currently trialling its product.

A spokesman for the University of Glasgow told The Glasgow Guardian: “We have experienced some operational difficulties with Turnitin over the last few years and so we have been looking at alternatives.

“We have undertaken a very limited but successful pilot with Urkund and are now moving to a larger-scale evaluation exercise while, at the same time, ensuring continuity of academic activity through retaining Turnitin.
“The outcomes of this exercise will have a significant bearing on our future strategy on plagiarism detection.”
Most of the universities which make use Urkund are in Scandinavia, but in July the company was chosen to supply its plagiarism detection service to India’s public universities.

Last year, Times Higher Education reported concerns raised by a number of university employees on a Turnitin discussion forum about increases in subscription charges and the disruption caused by system failures. A Turnitin spokesman said that use of its service was at an all-time high, with a 400 per cent increase in submissions in the last five years, with more staff and students using the service.