The universities watchdog has released guidelines instructing universities how to deal with essay writing companies that help students cheat.
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is urging universities to address the issue of students buying essays from ‘essay-mills’ and passing them off as their own.
The recommendations include using software that registers changes in students’ personal writing styles and levels of linguistic skills, blocking websites offering essay writing services, and banning them from advertising on campus.
“The prices of their services range from £15 to £6,750 for a PhD dissertation”
Universities are encouraged to support struggling students who are likely to turn to essay-mills and to warn their students that cheating could cost them their degrees.
The guidelines come after a recent investigation by the QAA that found that there were hundreds of essay-mill websites operating in the country.
SU Education Officer, Cassie O’Boyle, told Impact: “There is a lot of advice available from schools and departments about plagiarism and referencing. If a student is struggling with essay writing or time management it is really important for them to get in contact with someone from Student Services to ensure they get the help they need.”
“There is a lot of advice available from schools and departments about plagiarism and referencing”
The prices of their services range from £15 to £6,750 for a PhD dissertation depending on the complexity of the essay and the proximity of the deadline.
Neil Lakhani, a third-year physics student, told Impact: “I’ve never bought an essay from an essay-mill, and I think it’s really good that universities are clamping down on them, as it keeps the competition fair between students.”
Although universities in the UK are responsible for their own plagiarism policies, the QAA calls for cooperation between institutions to address the problem consistently.
Universities minister, Jo Johnson, said that this type of cheating “not only undermines standards in our world-class universities, but devalues the hard-earned qualifications of those who don’t cheat […]”