Otago University staff have confirmed that almost 100 final exam papers were stolen from an office in the faculty’s Clocktower building, during a burglary on Saturday night.
A total of 98 unmarked exam papers were taken from the exams office in the break-in, along with considerable damage to property.
The majority of the papers had been sat by Otago University students on Saturday, and covered a range of different subjects and different course levels.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Professor Vernon Squire, says the immediate concern is for the students who have been affected.
"We understand how upsetting and disappointing this is for the students," he said. "The considerable effort they have put into their study and exams has essentially been ruined by this reprehensible criminal act."
Staff from campus watch and the police responded to the Saturday night break-in, but those responsible had already left the scene. The exams office is in a secure area of the Clocktower building, requiring swipe-card access.
The university is now considering its options if the stolen exam papers cannot be recovered.
"It is our hope that the scripts will be returned," said Prof Squire. "But at this point we need to put plans in place as this may not occur. Therefore, we are making arrangements with the students to prepare for a likelihood that their scripts will not be returned."
Investigators believe planning and effort has gone into the burglary, and they are encouraging anyone in north Dunedin who has information to contact the police.