'Unethical' essay mills to be made illegal under new education reform

“Private companies prey on students’ vulnerabilities and insecurities to make money through exploitation.”

Furvah Shah
Wednesday 06 October 2021 14:11
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<p>Around one in seven graduates have used essay mills. (Chris Radburn/PA)</p>

Around one in seven graduates have used essay mills. (Chris Radburn/PA)

Paid essay-writing services will be made illegal in England under new government plans to reform education.

Services that provide students with essays for a fee, known as ‘essay mills’, have become a problem at many universities but are not yet illegal in the UK.

Skills minister, Alex Bughart, said in a statement: “Essay mills are completely unethical and profit by undermining the hard work most students do. We are taking steps to ban these cheating services.”

There are over 1,000 essay mills in operation across the country according to the UK’s university standards watchdog - the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education - and a 2018 survey suggested that around one in seven graduates have used essay mills.

In response to the ban, a spokesperson from collective Universities UK said: “We welcome this news. UUK has repeatedly called for essay writing services to be made illegal and we have worked together with government, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and other higher education bodies to tackle their use.

They added: “While the use of essay mills by students is rare, all universities have codes of conduct that include severe penalties for students found to be submitting work that is not their own.”

A spokesperson from the National Union of Students said: “NUS firmly opposes essay mills. These private companies prey on students’ vulnerabilities and insecurities to make money through exploitation, and never more so than during the pandemic.

“NUS has called on the Government to take action against them in the past, and we hope they are finally listening. In the meantime we would urge universities to put in place academic and pastoral support so that students are never in the position of feeling they have to turn to essay mills in the first place.”

This is just one of the new measures being put in place under the post-16 education reform, with other actions including changes to careers advice and support for apprenticeship, traineeships and other forms of technical education.

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