By Mustakim Hasnath
Leaders of more than 40 UK universities have backed a proposed ban on essay writing companies, following a letter addressing the issue to the education secretary being signed by vice chancellors of 46 universities. This comes after a surge in the number of students allegedly engaging in ‘contract cheating’ schemes, which involve students ‘ordering’ essays online, and then paying a fee based on the subject, length and deadline of said essay.
Despite serious penalties for students caught using these services, to-date, there is no UK legislation preventing these so-called ‘essay mills’ from offering their services and advertising them on social media. Consequently, university bosses seem to be increasingly concerned about the ‘essay mill’ companies involved, rather than the estimated 31 million students globally who invest in them. The worry for many is that this poses damage to the integrity of universities as institutions, and that it is unfair for other students who choose not to cheat.
Dr Hefin David, AM for Caerphilly, has addressed the Welsh Assembly on the matter. He commented on how easy it was for him to pose as a student online and be assured from a supposed ‘senior academic advisor’ that he would not be caught cheating unless he told someone.
This was shortly before he was quoted a reduced promotional price of £120 to have an essay written for him. The First Minister has also commented that the implementing of relevant legislation to tackle the issue would have to be UK-wide and institutions would need to take their own steps first.