Students writing exams
Students take their seats in an amphitheatre prior to an exam.Reuters

It is often debated whether modern technology is a boon or a curse, but it looks like students writing exams will eternally be thankful for technology. And no, we are not talking about MS Word and Wikipedia that aid students in preparing for tests. What has become a major cause of concern for schools and universities is the use of minuscule in-ear devices, which students have reportedly been using to cheat in exams.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, numerous devices are sold online in the UK that are not only tiny and easy to hide, but also fit students' budgets pretty well. These devices are wireless and the earpiece is connected to a larger device like a phone that can playback notes. It is guided by movement and rewinds and forwards notes accordingly.

To tackle these issues, MPs and universities in the United Kingdom believe that students should be subjected to checks similar to the ones carried out at airports, worldwide.

"This trend threatens to undermine our exam system if it's allowed to go unchecked and I think the government need to be acting on this because we've seen, increasingly, that the scale of cheating is growing," Neil Carmichael, chairman of the Education Select Committee, told the Sunday Telegraph.

Adding to Carmichael's point, Julia Black, acting director of the London School of Economics, said that it was very difficult for authorities to identify cheats and these earpieces add to the crisis. She said that with the use of such devices, the integrity of exams is lost.

Alison Wolf, Baroness of Dulwich and a professor of education at King's College London, said that the problem of students cheating is becoming such a huge concern that students might soon be put through metal detectors like at airports.

Metal detectors in schools
Security guards check the bags of applicants for the study of medicine at Vienna University.Reuters

However, school and university students being put through metal detectors is not unheard of, even though for different reasons. Many schools in the US made it mandatory for students to go through metal detectors and put their bags and shoes through X-Ray machines, as early as 2002. The decision was made in light of gun attacks that had taken place in schools.

''We know the process,'' Hanna Reyes, a junior at the John F Kennedy High School in the Bronx told the New York Times, ''We know what to take off, what shoes will set off the metal detectors. But you do feel like a prisoner.''

While many parents and activists have demanded that these detectors be removed, school authorities have often argued that it is for the safety of the students.