Tuesday 21-02-2017 - 16:56
Jo Johnson MP, the Minister for Universities and Science, has written to NUS this week requesting our support in addressing the growing problem of plagiarism and custom essay writing services, known as ‘essay mills’ – something we’ve been calling on for some time.
Following our support of QAA’s investigation last year, we are pleased to be able to contribute to this increasing threat to the academic integrity of higher education in the UK.
We will be working with students’ unions to develop student facing guidance about the issues and risks of using essay mill services. We will also be working co-operatively with The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and Universities UK (UUK) to develop a sector-wide response to this growing challenge.
“I am very pleased to be able to work so proactively with the government and the sector on an issue that poses a significant risk to the integrity of students’ degrees. I am keen to explore not only how we can support students to have better information about the risks of essay mills, but also what best practice can be developed to prevent students feeling like they are in a position where using such a service is their only choice." - Malia Bouattia, NUS President
According to the QAA there are now over 100 essay mills websites currently in operation. Prices charged by these sites vary depending on the complexity of essay and tightness of deadline. They can range from a couple of hundred pounds for a single essay to as high as £6,750 for a PhD dissertation.
Some universities, including Swansea University, have already taken it upon themselves to tackle the spread of essay mills websites but it’s clear a united approach on a national scale is needed to crack down on cheating and plagiarism.
The new sector guidance and student information is expected to be made available for the beginning of the 2017-18 teaching year.