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Chatting during an online exam = exmatriculation!

Anyone who intensively exchanges information with numerous other examinees via a messenger chat group during the entire processing time of an online exam can be exmatriculated for serious deception for doing so. This was decided by the Administrative Court of Berlin.

The plaintiff was a student in the bachelor’s degree program “Public Administration” and wrote a three-hour online exam in July 2021. After the correction of this exam, the lecturer and examiner were provided with screenshots of a chat history in which numerous exam candidates – including the plaintiff – exchanged views on topics of the exam while working on the exam. The university initiated examination proceedings against members of the chat group on suspicion of cheating. The plaintiff was exmatriculated due to the particular seriousness of the deception.

The 12th Chamber of the Berlin Administrative Court dismissed the action brought against it. The examination regulations provide for de-registration if an examination board – as was the case here – determines the particular seriousness of a deception. This assessment was not objectionable. The plaintiff had exchanged information with a large number of fellow examinees in the chat group during the entire time of the exam, read answers to questions from fellow students, asked questions and made comments herself; she had also been able to view screenshots of answers regarding the multiple-choice part of the exam. It is not important whether the statements and answers are actually suitable as an aid for the examination and whether their content is correct. It was also irrelevant whether the chat group had originally been set up by the university, because the examinees themselves were responsible for taking the examination without unauthorized assistance. Since there are a large number of cheats in online examinations, the university was also allowed to take into account the general deterrent effect of exmatriculation when choosing the sanction.

The judgment is final.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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