Harvard University revealed on Thursday what could be its largest cheating scandal in memory, saying about 125 students may have worked in groups on a take-home final exam, though they were explicitly required to work alone.

The accusations, related to a single, undergraduate class in the spring semester, deal with “academic dishonesty, ranging from inappropriate collaboration to outright plagiarism,” the administration said in a note sent to students.

Officials said nearly half of the more than 250 students in the class are under investigation by the Harvard College Administrative Board and if they are found to have cheated, they could be suspended for a year. The students have been notified that they are suspected and will be called to give their accounts at investigative hearings.

“This is unprecedented in its scope and magnitude,” said Jay Harris, Dean of Undergraduate Education.

Administrators would not reveal the name of the class or even the department, saying they wanted to protect the identities of the students. The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, reported that it was a government class, Introduction to Congress, which had 279 students.

When final exams were graded in May, similarities were noticed in the answers given by some students, officials said, and a professor brought the matter to the administration immediately. Over the summer, Harvard’s administrative board conducted an initial review. It concluded that almost half of them showed signs of possible collaboration. — New York Times News Service

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