Expert advice

Legal advice: is it okay to lend a student one of my projects?

Legal expert Marc Cornock advises a newly-qualified nurse on whether she can share her coursework with a student on placement at her workplace.

Legal expert Marc Cornock advises a newly-qualified nurse on whether she can share her coursework with a student on placement at her workplace


Whether intentional or not, plagiarism can have serious repercussions
for a student, including removal from a course. Picture: Getty

Helping a student is to be applauded and there is nothing legally or ethically wrong with what you propose, but there is an issue with potential plagiarism, whether intentional or not.

If I am doing a project on subject X and you lend me a project you did on subject X in the last 12 months, you don’t know what I will do with your project.

Serious issue

You may be lending it to me so I can see the structure of the project or the resources and references you used, but I may decide to copy your project word for word and submit it as my own work. This would be intentional plagiarism on my part.

Alternatively, I may read your project and unconsciously use some of your ideas in my project, which would be unintentional plagiarism. After reading your project it may be difficult for me not to incorporate some of it in my own work unintentionally.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. Depending on the severity, it can result in a student being removed from a course. A more effective and safer plan of action would be to discuss the project with the student, asking how they intend to approach it and the areas they are going to cover.

You can then give the student the benefit of your expertise and help steer them in the right direction without risking plagiarism. This will also enable the student to develop their thoughts through discussion with you. 


Marc Cornock is a qualified nurse, academic lawyer and senior lecturer at the Open University

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