By Rimante Bivainyte
Recently, a Guardian has released its investigative research analysing cheating around universities in the UK. the investigation showed that the number of students caught cheating at Russell Group universities has risen by 40% from 2,640 to 3,721 students between academic years 2014-15 and 2016-17.
Leed University registered one of the highest increases in regards of cheating. Records show that cases rose from 181 to 433 in three years time. At Glasgow University the number grew from 161 to 394.
Thomas Lancaster, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London and one of the UK’s experts on essay cheating, said: “A growing number of young people also feel more pressure than ever before, often turning to cheating to help them get through their degrees. It’s also easier to access websites that offer paid-to-order essays.” According to the Lancaster, universities are getting better at recording the cases of cheating, however, sometimes are incoherent in tackling the issue of cheating due to universities’ assumption ‘that this is not their problem’.
Lancaster has noted that universities need to to keep better records about the different types of academic misconduct students are engaging in. In addition, a senior lecturer in employment relations at Sheffield University, Jo Grady, noticed that companies that are selling essays, mostly, target universities at the time of stressful assessment periods. “They hope to hook students who are anxious and perhaps desperate, so they hand out business cards outside departmental buildings like vultures,” she says.
Moreover, there has been a great concern about essay-mill websites using aggressive marketing strategies to target students which involve spam emails about their services and messages sent via social media platforms such as Twitter.
Ian Kimber of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) noted that cheating continues to “pose a real threat to UK higher education’s reputation for excellence”. He adds saying that QAA’s guidance for universities and colleges which was published last year provides practical advice on detecting and addressing contract cheating, however, according to him, it is clear that there is more work to be done.