Academic Integrity

Academic integrity and honesty are key values at HKUST.


All students are required to uphold the University's Academic Honor Code.

Some kinds of academic misconduct are obvious but others are not so clear. It is your responsibility to learn where the University draws the line between academic honesty and cheating.

Academic Misconduct

Students are required to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. The University has zero tolerance for academic misconduct.

Avoiding Pressures that Lead to Cheating

Getting good grades means a lot, and cheating can seem like a shortcut to success. Here are some of the common "reasons" students give for cheating.

Time Pressure

  • "I got desperate when I realized the assignment was due tomorrow!"
  • "I could not keep up with the work in this class!"
  • "I had all these assignments coming due at the same time!"

If you feel time pressure, you may have to make more time in your schedule for study. Enjoying extra-curricular activities and time with your classmates is an important part of university life, but you need to balance this with the time you set aside to do your work.

Outside Pressure

  • "I have to get good grades. My parents will never understand if I get a poor grade."
  • "There are so many problems at home. I have to work to help my family."
  • "A family member needs a lot of care and I have to help out."

Family and financial problems can interfere with learning, and such problems may seem to be out of your control. Seek help before you make things worse by cheating. The University has a student counseling service run by the Dean of Students' Office. With good advice and support, you can learn to handle your problems.

What is Academic Misconduct

Most of us have a good idea about what is meant by cheating, but there are some "grey areas".

Here are some examples of academic misconduct. This list is by no means exhaustive.

  • Getting hold of examination or test questions without the instructor's permission, or giving other students questions without permission
  • Giving or receiving unauthorized information or help to answer questions during examinations or tests
  • Having someone else take a test or examination for you, or taking an examination or test for someone else
  • Handing in assignments on which you received help from fellow students or others that went beyond what was approved by the instructor, or giving such help
  • Making up facts or references and using them in assignments
  • Using other people's work in an assignment and presenting it as your own
  • Helping a fellow student to cheat

How to Avoid Plagiarism & Copying

It may not always be clear where honest work ends and cheating begins. You can probably tell the difference between studying with your classmates and copying someone else's work to turn in for an assignment. But working on assignments that will be assessed for marks may sometimes cross the line between what is proper and what is not.

When students collaborate on a project, all members of the team play a role in achieving the result, and their individual contribution can be documented. This is different from colluding with others to submit work that you pretend is your own to get marks you did not earn.

If you have any questions about whether group work is allowed, or how to submit it so that it is not considered cheating, ask your instructor.


Plagiarism is presenting work which is not your own and originates from other sources as if it is your own, without appropriate attribution to the sources.

For example, if you make a copy of an assignment done by a classmate and submit it as your own, you are guilty of plagiarism. If you pay someone else to write a paper for you, or get a friend to do it for free, you are guilty of plagiarism. These cases are obviously a form of cheating, since the intent is clearly to pass off someone else's work as your own.

As long as you identify where the information came from, you are not trying to pass off the work as your own. To make use of information you gather without being guilty of plagiarism, you must make sure that the sources are properly referenced.

There are many ways to reference sources properly. Your instructors may provide guidelines. Some useful advice can be found at Writing Guides and Manuals.

The easy access provided by the Internet to vast amounts of information has made plagiarism easier. Remember that plagiarism is a kind of theft of someone else's work, and a kind of fraud when you pretend that the work is your own.

What Happens if You are Caught Cheating

Students who cheat are likely to be caught. This is a very serious matter.

The case will go first to your department. The department can

  • Give a verbal warning or a written warning that will be held in your record until graduation
  • Require you to take make-up test / examination
  • Require you to resubmit work contributing to an award
  • Impose a lower grade for a component of the course assessment or a lower grade for the course including a fail in the course
  • Require you to take a period of mentoring or instruction to help you make better ethical choices in the future

In serious cases, your department may ask the School/AIS Dean to look at the case. The School can impose more severer sanctions – you may not be allowed to go on exchange, or get a scholarship, and a note may be made on your transcript. The most serious cases are referred to the Student Disciplinary Committee. The Student Disciplinary Committee can take away your eligibility for a degree; suspend you from the University, or simply dismiss you right away.

And that would be it. All your years of hard work in primary and secondary school, all that pressure to do well in the public exams … all thrown away.

The whole process is set out in the formal academic regulations - Regulations for Student Academic Integrity.

Investigation & Procedures

When a student is suspected of committing an act of academic misconduct, the case is firstly reported to the Head of the academic Department/Division responsible for the course.

The Head will review the case, and may impose appropriate disciplinary punishments including requiring the student to re-submit coursework, re-take examination and failing the course. Considering the seriousness and nature of each case, the department head may refer the case to the Dean of the School/AIS to look at the case. Additional sanctions including making a note on the student’s transcript may be imposed. The note may be removed on graduation provided that the student does not commit more than one offense.

If a student is confirmed to have committed a second act of academic misconduct, or a serious case, the Dean responsible for the student’s program will review the case and impose appropriate sanctions, or even refer the case to the Student Disciplinary Committee for further review. The committee may impose disciplinary punishments as deemed appropriate, which may include some severe ones like cancellation of academic credits already earned, suspension/termination of studies, and ineligibility for honors for graduation.


Students found guilty of academic offenses may appeal to the Provost against the verdict or the penalty imposed by the Department Heads, the Dean of the Schools or AIS.

Likewise, students found to be guilty of academic offenses by the Student Disciplinary Committee may submit an appeal to the President against the verdict or the penalty imposed.

The appeal must be made in writing within 14 days of receiving the decision. The appeal should state the grounds for the appeal, and include any relevant evidence or documentation not submitted previously.

For full details of the procedures and punishments for academic misconduct, refer to the Regulations for Student Academic Integrity.

Pages In this Guide
Who Does What

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is supported by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

Academic Programs & Registration

HKUST believes in total education. Our credit-based undergraduate programs combine the advantages of the sharp program focus of traditional Chinese and British universities and the broad approach characteristic of American universities.

Our educational philosophy and your personal development require that you be exposed to fields outside your major area of study. The undergraduate curriculum is designed to ensure that you get this exposure.

Under the 4-year curriculum, programs usually consist of eight regular terms of full-time study. All programs lead to honors degrees.

Most programs are administered by academic departments/divisions. Joint programs involve two or more departments and are administered by a unit set up for that purpose.

Courses & Enrollment

You are responsible for your own studies. It is important for you to plan ahead to ensure that you can complete the study within the permitted duration of study.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity and honesty are key values at HKUST.

Classes & Attendance

The University does not have a policy on minimum class attendance. Instructors may take attendance into consideration when assigning grades, provided this is made clear to the students during the discussion of grading.

The academic year begins on 1 September and ends on the following 31 August. A year consists of four terms – Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

The Fall and Spring terms are the regular terms. Each has 13 weeks of classes, followed by a short study break and an examination period. Almost all formal instruction takes place in the regular terms.

Normally, the Fall term begins in early September and ends in late December, while the Spring term begins in early February and ends in late May. The Summer term usually runs from late June to mid-August.

The Summer and Winter terms may include regular courses, short credit-bearing skills courses, intensive language courses, workshops, lecture series, mini-conferences and other activities.

Most undergraduates are not required to take courses during the Winter and Summer terms.

Assessment & Progress

Grades are assigned for all courses. Your instructors will discuss the course content, structure, activities and grading scheme with the class at the start of each course.

Typically, the course grade is based on student performance throughout the term and on the final examination. Instructors may consider factors such as class attendance, tardiness and classroom behavior in assigning grades, provided this is made clear to the students during the discussion of grading.

Final examinations are held after the end of classes. There is normally a short study break before the start of the examination period.

Graduation & Degrees

You are responsible for ensuring that you fulfill the course and credit requirements for your program in the time allowed. If you wish to graduate, you are required to indicate your intention of graduation via the Student Center in SIS. Failure to apply on time may result in a delay in graduation.

The Academic Registry will track your graduation status based on the application for graduation. Your school/department may also monitor your progress and warn you if a problem appears.

Your program will be completed when you have met all the program requirements. After reviews by your major department and school board, or AIS, your graduation will be approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Studies under authority delegated by the University Senate.

Your degree will be conferred on the date designated by the Senate. You will be awarded at Congregation, which is the formal graduation ceremony. Attendance is not compulsory.

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