The government has announced that it will become a criminal offence to provide, arrange or advertise essay-writing services to students for financial gain.
The proposed ban of so-called ‘essay mills’ is part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, introduced on the 18th of May.
Skills minister Alex Burghart said the move will ‘protect students from falling prey to the deceptive marketing techniques of contract cheating services’.
Already, students who are caught submitting essays written by someone else face disciplinary action, which could involve expulsion from their universities. However, the original, custom-written essays that are offered by essay mills are not easily detected by anti-plagiarism software, and universities have been calling on the government to do more.
In 2018, over forty university bosses wrote to Damian Hinds, the then education secretary, calling for a ban on essay mills, including the University of Nottingham’s vice chancellor, Professor Shearer West.
Former universities minister Chris Skidmore said that the number of essay mills increased as they sought ‘to take advantage of the desperate situation’ that many students were facing.
In October last year, the University of Nottingham said in a statement that they did not want ‘any student to feel that they have to resort to using such a service that will not only affect their academic integrity, but could also have an effect financially and on their mental health’.
According to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, there are currently 1,000 essay-writing companies in operation. https://www.qaa.ac.uk/news-events/news/proposed-ban-on-essay-mills-in-england-a-welcome-move-in-tackling-contract-cheating%20/
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