It showed the amount of students admitting to contract cheating, when students pass off a custom-made essay as their own, has increased over time. But Prof Newton, director of learning and teaching at Swansea Medical School, suggested the number could be much higher, as students who have paid for essays to be written are far less likely to volunteer to take part in surveys on cheating. Essay mills are legal in the UK, although there is currently a petition to change UK law as current legislation has been found to be ineffective at tackling the problem.
They are banned in the United States and New Zealand, while other countries are actively developing legislation to tackle them. Despite not being illegal, the Quality Assurance Agency QAA , which monitors standards in higher education in the UK, said submitting an essay written by someone else is a form of plagiarism, and pupils could face expulsion from university if caught.
Earlier research from Prof Newton showed that academic integrity is not a topic that is routinely covered in teacher training programmes for staff and that students have a poor understanding of the consequences of engaging in contract cheating.
Essay mills: 'One in seven' paying for university essays 31 August Image copyright Getty Images More students than ever are paying someone else to write assignments for them via "essay mills", a Swansea University study has revealed. Essay mills are legal in the UK. However, some countries have banned them.
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More on this story. A study of US student demand for commercially produced assignments found students with English as their first language who liked taking risks were about as likely to buy an assessment as students who were reluctant risk-takers, but who spoke English as a second language. A recent study on contract cheating in Australia concluded that the over-representation of non-native English speaking students in cheating surveys is linked to the failure of universities to provide support for language and learning development.
Students are tasked with completing assessments for which they lack the basic English language skills. Widely used plagiarism-detection companies, such as Turnitin , can detect similarities to material that already exists.
But essay-writing companies loudly promote the fact their product is original. In February this year, Turnitin announced plans to crack down on contract cheating.
But despite these technological advancements, students who are turning to such services have reasons far more complicated than laziness or disregard for personal responsibility. Read more: Universities run as businesses can't pursue genuine learning. A mystery shopping exercise in the UK revealed the astonishingly low standard of commissioned work produced by essay mills. Of all the essays purchased, none received the requested grade, and many fell dramatically short of expected academic standards.
Rather than buying top grades, desperate students are being exploited by companies that take advantage of the very shortcomings lower literacy and an ignorance of plagiarism protocols students are hoping to mitigate. According to a study on cheating websites, commercial providers rely on persuasive marketing techniques.
While there is no federal law against the operation of essay mills, there are over a dozen individual states in the US that have their. Today, he runs what's known as an 'essay mill' – a highly lucrative . essay mills do remain legal throughout most parts of the developed world.
They often repackage an unethical choice in the guise of professional help for students who are weighed down by a demanding workload. In recent years, several scholars have explored the legality of contract cheating, along with the possibilities of defining a new offence under criminal law of providing or advertising contract cheating. In , for example, a law was introduced in New Zealand that makes it a criminal offence to provide or advertise cheating services. Yet the criminalisation of such services leads inevitably to the prosecution of cheating students, something the legal system has so far been reluctant to do.
But even discounting the possibility of legal action, plagiarism has hefty consequences for university students under misconduct policies, including revoking course credits, expulsion, and a permanent record of cheating. Redesigning assessments is the primary way to tackle the growing problem of contract cheating.
Recent suggestions focus on the development of authentic assessments: tasks that more closely mirror the real-world demands students will face after they graduate from university. Rather than simply completing an essay, for example, a history student might be tasked with interviewing a local non-profit organisation, and producing a podcast episode.
One key problem for overhauling assessment design is the troubling proliferation of casual labour in universities.
Related Articles. Increasingly sophisticated methods are now attracting vulnerable students into paying for their services. Show on a map. This will make these services hand in any work done for a student to their university. A third of these were bought by ostensibly bright, capable students at Russell Group universities — the leading 24 universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Durham and Bristol.