WATERLOO -- Cheating and other academic misconduct is on the rise at universities and colleges as students shift to online learning during the pandemic.

"My friends have told me a couple of stories about people they know who have cheated," said University of Waterloo student Matthew Mure.

Some students said cheating is easier when they're not in a physical classroom.

"Take turns taking exams if there are different times or be on a call together," Mure said.

UW's Office of Academic Integrity said COVID-19 has been a contributing factor when it comes to students breaking the rules.

"The stress of the pandemic has really exacerbated the pressure that's put on students, so it's led to the increase of academic misconduct," Amanda McKenzie with the office said.

Between August 2019 and September 2020, students were caught cheating 1,340 times, an increase from 500 the previous academic year.

Conestoga College said cheating is a continued concern, but measures are in place to try and prevent it.

"There's a module they have to take before they start at the college on academic integrity and the consequences of it," said Greg Hallam, executive dean of the School of Business.

Wilfrid Laurier University doesn't have statistics on cheating available yet, but expects to see a similar increase to other post-secondary schools.

"Globally, there's been an increase in academic misconduct," McKenzie said.

The three schools said discipline depends on the severity of the case, but they all aim to be compassionate and understanding due to the added challenges of the pandemic.

"While we do not condone cheating of any sort, we recognize the stress our students are under," said Abbie Simpson, president of the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association. "Students do not cheat for no reason; they cheat when they feel unsupported."

Simpson added the association has been working with the university to help improve online learning next semester.