Cheating university students in Britain who use essay mills could face tough penalties under an action outlined Tuesday by Minister of State for Universities Jo Johnson.
A study showed some students pay up to 8,400 U.S. dollars to have a dissertation or a piece of work written for them.
The British government has called for universities to do more to stop students buying custom written essays online after a study revealed over 100 essay mills are currently operating in Britain.
Johnson wants university and student bodies in Britain to do more to deal with the spread of essay mill websites which provide essays for students to submit as part of their degree courses.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has been tasked to take action against the online advertising of such services and to work with international agencies to deal with the problem.
Johnson has called for guidance to include tough new penalties for those who make use of essay mills websites, as well as the need to educate students about the potentially significant negative impacts on their future career, if they are caught cheating.
Johnson said: “This form of cheating is unacceptable and every university should have strong policies and sanctions in place to detect and deal with it.
“Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high quality reputation of a UK degree so it is vital that the sector works together to address this in a consistent and robust way.”
The spread of essay mill websites was uncovered in a QAA report, commissioned by the government. It found that the websites often advertise their services to students for a fee and many promote “plagiarism-free guarantees”, or essays tested against plagiarism detection software.
Prices charged by these sites vary depending on the complexity of essay and tightness of deadline. They can range from a few hundred dollars for a single essay to as high as 8,400 U.S. dollars for a PhD dissertation.
Ian Kimber, head of quality enhancement and standards at QAA said: “Essay mills are a major challenge for universities and colleges because, unlike other forms of cheating, the practice is notoriously difficult to detect.”
“We look forward to continuing our work with the government and sector colleagues in addressing an issue potentially damaging to students and the reputation of UK higher education,”Kimber said. Enditem