York St John joins fight against essay cheats

Published: 27/09/2018

University vice chancellor backs national campaign for a legal ban on essay mills.

Essay mills bombard students with adverts encouraging them to cheat.

Professor Karen Stanton has joined dozens of university vice chancellors and heads of higher education institutions who are calling on the Government to take stronger action against essay mills and other forms of contract cheating. 

There are well over 100 essay mills currently in operation. They advertise online, on social media, near campuses and even on the London Underground, bombarding students with messages encouraging them to cheat. Prices can range from a couple of hundred pounds for a single essay to over £6,000 for a PhD dissertation.

In a letter sent to the Education Secretary today, vice-chancellors from across the sector and representing many of the UK’s largest and most successful universities, as well as the chief executives of major sector bodies, are calling for a legal ban on the basis that “essay mills undermine the integrity of UK Higher Education and are unfair to the vast majority of honest, hard-working students.”

 They are calling for the Government to:

  • Commit to introducing legislation to ban the provision and advertising of essay mills before the end of this Parliament.
  • Commission the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the higher education standards body, to develop and publish a draft Bill by or before the beginning of the next Parliamentary Session, building on their existing work with academic and legal experts.
  • Support efforts by the QAA and Office for Students to tackle this issue, including through the QAA’s proposal for a UK Centre for Academic Integrity, with a formal remit to research, analyse and combat academic misconduct. 

Recent research shows the growing problem of companies offering students assignments-to-order. Unlike traditional plagiarism, essay mills provide students with bespoke, original pieces of work which cannot easy be detected by anti-plagiarism software such as TurnItIn. New research by Newton and Draper shows that 15.7% of students admitted to cheating since 2014.

The Office for Students has issued a response to the essay mills letter.

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