Harvard College, a school under Harvard University in the US, on Thursday announced that nearly half of the 279 undergraduate students enrolled in a class on government are being investigated for plagiarism.
Authorities didn't name the course but Harvard Crimson, a newspaper brought out by students, said it was 'Government 1310: Introduction to Congress'.
An initial investigation found that these students plagiarised other students' answers or collaborated beyond permitted limits in answering their take-home final exam papers.
"We take academic integrity very seriously," said Michael D Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "Academic dishonesty cannot and will not be tolerated at Harvard."
"These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable behaviour that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends," said Harvard University President Drew Faust.
If found guilty, students face disciplinary action which could mean withdrawing from college for a year. And lifelong stigma of being among the first plagiarists at Harvard.
The plagiarism was discovered last semester when the course teacher found similarities in a large number of the exams papers turned in by students and referred them to the college's education board.
While the allegations are currently confined only to this course, the college is considering a number of steps to reinforce the need for student integrity.