UK Essays are a Nottingham-based company that provide bespoke essays for students, near-enough guaranteeing them a desired grade. When I was approached about doing an interview with them, I must admit that I was all set to focus the interview solely around how such action could be considered anything less than cheating.
Interviewing the Chief Operations Officer of the company, Daniel Dennehy, I was expecting to be greeted by a man in his late 30s at least, and someone relatively divorced from the world students inhabit. You can imagine my surprise when a rather young man, clearly in his 20s, strode in.
Even before the actual interview started, he was warm and engaging, asking about university and IMPACT. When we did get down to the interview, the first topic of discussion was the free services which the UK Essays website provide, such as essay writing guides, which even I must admit is pretty extensive.
“UK Essays have customers from across the country, and the rest of the world, in places such as Australia, the US and the Middle East”
“It’s about helping students, that’s the nature of what we are about,” Daniel begins. “We never see ourselves as simply a website providing essays for students, and we are investing a lot in the next 12 to 18 months in terms of offering even more free services.”
UK Essays have around 2,500 freelance researchers available to take on work, who are all graduates verified by their in-house team, as Daniel confirms. “We give all of our researchers a test piece, and do not let people take on work without being verified internally. In our offices in Arnold, we have around 50 people working for us.”
Despite being based in Nottingham, UK Essays have customers from across the country, and the rest of the world, in places such as Australia, the US and the Middle East. Additionally, on their website, they publish some articles from the BBC and The Telegraph, which highlight the level of accuracy they can provide with their essay writing services.
“If you have someone coming to you for help, and you give them something completely under the level they ask for, it’s completely worthless.”
Ultimately, the elephant in the room needed to be addressed, and I asked whether Daniel felt that buying essays is classed as cheating, or whether university stresses often force people down such a route.
“It’s a combination of both, to be honest,” was his very democratic reply. “I don’t think it is wrong for people to buy essays, considering the cost and stress of university. Getting a 2:1 or a first makes a big difference in later life, so a lot of people are always going to look for small advantages, as is life.
“In terms of our product and using it incorrectly, we are happy to speak to universities. The problem is, universities do not want that, and there is a stigma attached to writing essays for people.
“Universities should want to police the industry and manage it, but at the moment they are doing neither.”
A survey conducted by UK Essays of those paying for example essays found that nearly 50% of these people were international students, with 42% not speaking English as their first language. With this in mind, I asked if it is the pressure of coming to university in a new country that causes people to take such drastic action.
“Drastic action? It’s something that’s been going on for years. Even before the internet, people would ask their parents or friends to write essays for them; there is no difference between gaining an advantage from a website or parent.”
“You can go into university bookshops and get a year’s worth of essays condensed into a book. All we do is tailor a service directly to the specific question.”
It was a pertinent point, and one I certainly had not considered. However, buying a bespoke essay from UK Essays is a little steeper. For instance, a 3000-word History essay to a low 1st class grade would set one back a cool £808. I put this point to Daniel.
“It is [expensive], but you have to consider that the person writing that has gone through all of the stresses you have, so they know exactly what they need to do, whereas someone with a 2:1 cannot get paid as much as someone potentially with a 1st.
“One of the reasons we can verify the grade promised is through our internal checking, to ensure it is meeting the specifications.”
“Universities are essentially a business, and see students as a commodity.”
Due to the sheer cost of the service, I would never be able to pay for such a service, and that is the case for a number of students. Surely, this is a case of the rich being able to use their wealth to gain an advantage?
Daniel insists that this is far from the case: “The reason we provide the free services is to create a site for hundreds of thousands of people. The marking service is a very reliable one, with an expert going through your work and giving ideas.”
“I think the biggest problem with universities is that they fear us, because it is custom written and so gets through plagiarism sites. We are going to make our fair-use policy easier to understand, and we tell all of our customers that they have to read it before it is submitted.”
The crux of the argument for such sites is then clearly expressed: “Universities are essentially a business, and see students as a commodity. Every university website is tailored mainly at international students, as that is where the money is.”
“There is a lot of fundamental issues with universities.”
I ask my final question here, and despite my deep affection for UoN, it is something I have grappled with myself recently: “Do you think universities would rather get the results, ultimately?”
“Deep down, a little bit.” Daniel concedes. One of the ways around this is for universities to allow students to freely use the service, in collaboration with the company: “We can create a mini-website for UoN or Nottingham Trent University, which they can recommend to students looking for additional help.”
It is here where I leave the interview, and I must admit that it was one of the more engaging and enjoyable interviews I have conducted for IMPACT. Writing essays for someone else is contentious, and I was not swayed into believing it is justifiable.
Being able to have a chat to someone from within such a system is an illuminating experience, and casts questions on universities who appear to be turning a blind eye to the system.
Featured image courtesy of ‘Jinx!’ via Flickr.
Article image courtesy of UK Essays and Daniel Dennaghy.