Academic Cheating Claims Hit Huhtasaari Campaign

Liberal Party activist claims several instances of plagiarism in Huhtasaari's master's degree dissertation.

File photo of Laura Huhtasaari / Credit: huhtasaari2018

Finns Party presidential candidate Laura Huhtasaari has been hit by claims that she plagiarised the work of other people and passed it off as her own to complete a masters degree dissertation at the University of Jyväskylä.

The claims are being made by Liberal Party Vice Chairman Tuomas Tiainen.

“It’s obvious she has plagiarized, there’s no question about that” Tiainen tells News Now Finland.

Blog Post Research

In January 2017, Tiainen revealed several instances where he says Huhtasaari plagiarized online posts to write her blogs.

While some instances of Huhtasaari’s apparent plagiarism seem to be copied from online news stories; other blog posts are lifted directly from the writing of National Coalition Party MP Wille Rydman, considered to be on the right of his party’s ideology.

“That was a year ago, and my blog got about two thousand views back then. But Laura was nobody at that time. Now, after a year she is the Vice President of Perussuomalaiset [Finns Party] and the presidential candidate” explains Tuomas Tiainen.

More Investigation

Tiainen decided to cast his net wider than Huhtasaari’s blog posts. He ordered a copy of her master’s dissertation about how multi-cultural classrooms impact learning, from the University of Jyväskylä. It was only available in paper form, but once it was scanned, Tiainen used his own algorithm as well as commercially available plagiarism detection software to run comparisons.

“It’s really easy to notice her form. All the simple sentences are her own. It really seems like she has trouble writing academic text, so she has plagiarized because it doesn’t seem like she has the capability to write these texts on her own” he says.

Huhtasaari graduated with her masters degree in education from the University of Jyväskylä in 2005, and Tiainen cautions that it wasn’t possible to do a full investigation of her dissertation because it would be likely that source material is not available in digital format.

Now, the University is looking into the claims, and will decide within a week whether the threshold for a preliminary investigation has been met.

Huhtasaari’s campaign tells News Now Finland that she’s too busy to directly answer questions about this topic until after the election. However, Huhtasaari wrote online that she had talked to someone involved in supervising dissertation projects who said the plagiarism claims were baseless.

The Finns Party’s online newspaper Suomen Uutiset writes that all of Laura’s texts were correctly attributed in her dissertation.