Essay mill cheating could become criminal offence.

‘Ministers concerned about the growing scale of cheating at university have announced a crackdown on so-called “essay mill” websites that provide written-to-order papers for students to submit as part of their degrees.

Jo Johnson, the universities minister, has asked student bodies and institutions for guidance to help combat “contract plagiarism”, where tens of thousands of students are believed to be buying essays for hundreds of pounds a time.

A report by the independent university regulator last summer found that essay writing websites often advertise their services to students for a fee and many promote “plagiarism-free guarantees” or essays tested against plagiarism detection software.

According to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), there are now more than 100 essay mill websites in operation. The amount they charge is dependent on the complexity of the essay and tightness of deadline, ranging from several hundred pounds for a single essay to £6,750 for a PhD dissertation.’ – Guardian

‘Leading academics are also in favour of a ban, with Professor Phil Newton and Michael Draper, leading experts on essay plagiarism, calling on the Government to tighten up the legal loopholes being exploited by professional writing services.

In their new paper on the industry, entitled “Are Essay Mills committing fraud?” Prof Newton and Mr Draper propose making amendments to the Fraud Act 2006 and the Trading Regulations Act 2008, in order to make it easier for universities to challenge essay mills in court.

The authors also recommend that a new criminal offence be created which “specifically targets the undesirable behaviours” of essay-writing services, adding that current legislation makes it “extremely difficult” to bring successful legal action against the companies.’ – Telegraph

‘“Essay mills are a major challenge for universities and colleges because, unlike other forms of cheating, the practice is notoriously difficult to detect,” said Ian Kimber, the QAA’s director of universities, quality enhancement and standards. “We look forward to continuing our work with the government and sector colleagues in addressing an issue potentially damaging to students and the reputation of UK higher education.”’ – Times Higher Education


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