New government plan seeks to punish university students who pay for pre-written essays, which is detailed to include fines as well as a possible criminal record.
For the first time in the UK, students who cheat on essays, whether it be plagiarism or external bodies write their essays for them, could face a criminal record.
The university watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) stated that hundreds of essay producing agencies are charging extortionate amounts of up to £6,750 for work like as PhD dissertations. However it is not just PhD papers that are being sourced from external sources; the QAA published a report in 2016 stating that essays of varying length and complexity were being written, with costs ranging between fifteen and thousands of pounds.
Investigations on how to crack down on plagiarism from the Department of Education come at the same time as revelations that almost 50,000 students enrolled at British Universities have been caught cheating in the last three years. Suggestions as to how to deal with this plagiarism epidemic include fines, academic blacklists, and even criminal records for students found to have submitted professionally-written essays as their own work.
Universities minister Jo Johnson said it was ‘unacceptable’ for students to use websites which write their essays for them in exchange for payment, and has pledged that the Government will take “tough action”.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education stated that the Government was open to all proposals for tackling plagiarism in British universities, adding that a change in law was something that should be considered in the future.
This new guidance is due to be implemented in September 2017. Universities already have severe penalties for students submitting plagiarised work including expulsion and disqualification of essays or exams.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK, said: “Such academic misconduct is a breach of an institution’s disciplinary regulations and can result in students, in serious cases, being expelled from the university.”
(Image: Raymond H. Center Library)