Jo Johnson, the universities minister, has outlined plans to tackle the rise in websites selling essays to students at British universities.
Essay buying can be a lucrative business where companies write essays, dissertations, and even PhD theses for students for prices of up to, and exceeding, £1000.
One site, Essay UK, promises a “grade guarantee”, boasting that “95.2% of our customers had received the grades they expected”.
The site does, however, warn that it isn’t a complete given that you will get the grade – despite the title claim – and that “if you want a guarantee, buy a toaster!” Differentiation in marking and writing styles are cited as the reason for this.
Despite the clear moral and ethical issues around essay buying and selling, Essay UK claims that it does not constitute cheating.
“We can assure you it is NOT cheating and there is no reason you will get caught.”
Although legally sound, the government is keen to crack down on the issue and has asked universities to do more in stopping this growing issue.
An English Literature graduate – who wishes to remain anonymous – told The Courier that they could be tempted to write for these sites.
“I think if the money was good and there was zero chance of repercussions, then I’d do it.
“I think it’s tempting for certain graduates, like English Lit students, where the job market is hard enough as it is and we already have those skills like writing and researching. It sort of appeals to us.”
Questioned on whether the job would pose them a moral dilemma, they reiterated the money aspect.
“Again, if the money was good I wouldn’t think twice.
“I wouldn’t do it for £20, but if they were offering £100 or more, then yeah.”
On the other hand, MSc Computer Science student, Sam Cope, believes the industry is rotten to the core.
“I feel that paying someone to do your essay for you is definitely unacceptable. An essay is set in order to test your own capability.”
Cope also raised issue with the inequality of who could actually use these services.
“These so-called ‘professional essay writing’ companies, who charge a small fortune for their services, are putting students who cannot pay at a disadvantage.
“If you can’t be arsed to put in the graft yourself, then you don’t deserve the grade and you shouldn’t even be at university.”
George Issa, an international student, believes the companies set out to target foreign students.
“I know loads of people who have been approached by these companies.
“I think they target vulnerable students as they know they might be struggling and their English isn’t as good.”
Guidelines are set to come in at the start of the 2017/18 academic year and will stress the need for stricter punishments for those found to have used these sites, and also highlight the danger to students’ future careers.