Essay writing services must be banned to stop cheating, say academics

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on September 1st, 2018 by steve

“The British government has been urged to outlaw essay writing services that allow university students to pay for coursework for their degrees, after a study found that use of ‘contract cheating’ is rapidly increasing around the world. The study by Prof Philip Newton at Swansea University’s medical school collected evidence from surveys taken among students in higher education …” (more)

[Richard Adams, Guardian, 31 August]

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‘Universities to blame’ for profiteering essay mills

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on August 15th, 2018 by steve

“I’ve written here quite a few times now, including most recently here but also here, about the corrosive effect of the profiteering essay mill industry and the growing threat it represents to the integrity of UK higher education …” (more)

[Paul Greatrix, Wonkhe, 14 August]

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To tackle student cheating, we need to reimagine university assessment

Posted in Teaching on June 13th, 2018 by steve

“Ghost-writing academic work is nothing new but until relatively recently it was out of reach of most students. Now essay mills have started rolling on an industrial scale. Their sophisticated websites offer production of a whole range of assignments up to and including dissertations and theses. If required, a typical undergraduate essay, on pretty much any topic, can be turned around in less than 24 hours …” (more)

[Jon Scott, Guardian, 13 June]

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Essay cheating: How common is it?

Posted in Governance and administration on May 5th, 2018 by steve

“A BBC investigation has found that prominent YouTube stars are encouraging students to buy essays. Passing off a custom-made essay as your own is a form of plagiarism known as contract cheating …” (more)

[BBC News, 3 May]

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Number of students cheating at UK universities rise by 30%

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2018 by steve

“The number of students caught cheating at the UK’s top universities has shot up by a third in three years, with experts warning that institutions are ignoring the problem. Figures compiled by the Guardian from freedom of information requests to Russell Group universities – a group of 24 leading institutions that includes Oxford and Cambridge – shows the number of academic misconduct cases surged by 30%, from 2,640 to 3,721, between the academic years 2014-15 and 2016-17 …” (more)

[Sarah Marsh, Irish Times, 29 April]

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Psst … Need a PhD thesis? That’ll be $63,000

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2018 by steve

“Many readers may have heard whisper of companies that offer a range of writing services – some more ethical than others. Although some companies offer to edit and polish writing, others can write PhD research proposals, masters’ theses, or even a dissertation …” (more)

[Retraction Watch, 22 February]

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The crumbling façade: my experience working for an essay mill

Posted in Life on December 12th, 2017 by steve

“According to a recent UK Government-backed review, academics are topping up their earnings by writing for ‘essay mill’ sites which help students to cheat in their assignments. SA Mills was one of those academics and recounts the experience here; offering an insight into the allure of such opportunities for those either out of work or in precarious positions, as well as the transactional nature of working for these services and with their clients …” (more)

[LSE Impact of Social Sciences, 12 December]

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‘A legal approach to tackling contract cheating?’

Posted in Legal issues on December 6th, 2017 by steve

Abstract: The phenomenon of contract cheating presents, potentially, a serious threat to the quality and standards of Higher Education around the world. There have been suggestions, cited below, to tackle the problem using legal means, but we find that current laws are not fit for this purpose. In this article we present a proposal for a specific new law to target contract cheating, which could be enacted in most jurisdictions. We test our proposed new law against a number of issues that would need to be considered before any legal approach could be successful; would changing the legal status of contract cheating make it less likely to happen? Could this be achieved in a specific way? If so, who should actually be prosecuted and what offence are they committing? Would it actually address the causes of contract cheating? We suggest some answers to these questions, but then also identify a number of unintended potential consequences. We therefore additionally consider whether a legal approach is possible or even desirable. We conclude that a legal approach to contract cheating is possible, and, on balance, appropriate. Using UK law as an example, we offer a specific suggestion to lawmakers, around the world, for how this might be achieved, and conclude that the most successful approach would be to focus largely on a law targeting the providers of contract cheating, in particular commercial services.

Michael J Draper and Philip M Newton, A legal approach to tackling contract cheating?, International Journal for Educational Integrity (December 2017).

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A new type of hacking puts professors’ accounts at risk

Posted in Teaching on November 2nd, 2017 by steve

“A former wrestler at the University of Iowa was arrested last week for his role in a high-tech cheating scheme. The student, Trevor Graves, secretly installed devices called keyloggers onto campus computers and used them to record his professors’ keystrokes. Armed with his instructors’ institutional log-in details, Graves reportedly boosted his grades over 90 times in a 21-month period, in addition to intercepting exam and test questions …” (more)

[Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 1 November]

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Universities unite against the academic black market

Posted in Governance and administration on October 17th, 2017 by steve

“On the TV show Suits, Mike Ross’s character charges a hefty fee to students to take the LSAT (law school admission test) for them. Ross has a stellar memory and a remarkable ability to take tests without getting crushed by stress – he is the perfect ‘contract cheater’. Later, Ross builds a career as a lawyer based on fake credentials, presumably from Harvard …” (more)

[Sarah Elaine Eaton, The Conversation, 16 October]

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Students cheat in ever more creative ways: how can academics stop them?

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on October 12th, 2017 by steve

“I volunteer to sit as a lecturer on our academic misconduct board several times a semester, joining a small panel that decides whether or not students flagged up by their lecturers for cheating have broken the rules. We get a stack of roughly 10 cases, and for two or three hours we pore over them, not only deciding if students are guilty as charged but also what the punishment should be …” (more)

[Guardian, 12 October]

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UCC students under investigation over project cheating fears

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on July 14th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Several University College Cork business information systems (BIS) students are awaiting the outcome of a probe into allegations that they cheated on a final-year project. While more than a dozen are understood to have been subject of an initial complaint, the number being investigated is thought to be significantly less after initial consideration of the matter …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 14 July]

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UCC withholds some results amid allegations of cheating

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on July 13th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“University College Cork has withheld the results of a number of final-year degree students amid allegations of cheating and breaches of exam procedures. Students from the business information systems course are alleged to have ‘outsourced’ key aspects of a final-year project which involved computer coding, according to college sources …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 13 July]

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It’s not essay mills that are doing the grinding

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 26th, 2017 by steve

“Notwithstanding the rejection of an amendment to the UK’s Higher Education and Research Bill that would have outlawed ‘cheating services’, political and public concern about essay mills remains at a historic high …” (more)

[Stuart Macdonald, Times Higher Education, 25 May]

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Bruton Announces New Powers for the Higher and Further Education Regulator

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“New Bill to Tackle Academic Cheating, Establish an International Education Mark. Institutes of Technology to Have Greater Autonomy in Awarding Bachelors and Masters Degrees. The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, has today (Monday) announced that the Government have approved the draft outline of a law which will provide new powers to the Higher and Further Education Regulator, QQI, to improve the quality of our education system …” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 15 May]

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More university students are using tech to cheat in exams

Posted in Teaching on April 10th, 2017 by steve

“A growing number of UK university students are cheating in exams with the help of technological devices such as mobile phones, smart watches and hidden earpieces. Data obtained by the Guardian through freedom of information requests found a 42% rise in cheating cases involving technology over the last four years – from 148 in 2012 to 210 in 2016 …” (more)

[Sarah Marsh, Guardian, 10 April]

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Now a degree is a commodity, no wonder more students are cheating

Posted in Legal issues on February 22nd, 2017 by steve

“It was reported this week that the Department for Education is considering new penalties for students who plagiarise essays. This comes after an investigation by the Times in 2016 found that 50,000 students had been caught cheating on their university degrees in the three years before. Students were paying anywhere between £100 and £6,750 for an essay, and this widespread cheating has led to suggestions that criminal records could be dished out to offenders …” (more)

[Poppy Noor, Guardian, 22 February]

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University students could be fined or handed criminal records for plagiarised essays, new proposals suggest

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on February 21st, 2017 by steve

“University students who buy essays online face fines and a criminal record under plans to punish plagiarism being considered by the government. For the first time, students caught cheating could be criminalised amid fears that a burgeoning ‘essay mills’ industry is threatening the quality of a British university degree …” (more)

[Harry Yorke, Telegraph, 21 February]

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GMIT issues apology over unsubstantiated exam cheat claims

Posted in Legal issues on October 18th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has apologised for the ‘hurt’ it caused to staff during an investigation into exam cheating claims, which were not substantiated. Jim Fennell, GMIT Financial Controller, issued the ‘unreserved apology’ to all schools and departments via email last week …” (more)

[Dara Bradley, Connacht Tribune, 17 October]

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GMIT faces legal action over unsubstantiated exam cheat claims

Posted in Legal issues on September 23rd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) looks set to be mired in legal controversy over its investigation into unproven allegations of cheating levelled against students. A half-dozen final year Business Studies students were accused of having accessed an examination paper in advance of their end-of-year exams in May …” (more)

[Dara Bradley, Connacht Tribune, 23 September]

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