Hole in pyjamas reveals Internet plagiarism

Candidates for British universities have been caught red-handed copying their applications from the Internet after hundreds mentioned "burning a hole in pyjamas at age eight" on their online entrance forms.

The phrase, taken from a website which provides examples of personal statements used by successful candidates, describes an early encounter with a chemistry set.

Medical course applications from 370 others contained statements beginning with "a fascination for how the human body works" and 175 included anecdotes which involved "an elderly or infirm grandfather."

A study published on Wednesday by UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, found that five percent of the 50,000 personal statements surveyed at random contained "borrowed material," lifted mostly from one free Web site: www.studential.com. Most of the material plagiarized, however, was adapted by applicants with direct copying from online sources standing at less than 1 percent, the study revealed. "There is a small problem but we're looking at ways to address it," said Byron Price, communications officer of UCAS.

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