The BBC is reporting that more students than ever are paying someone else to write assignments for them via “essay mills”, a Swansea University study has revealed.
The survey of more than 50,000 students, found 15.7% admitted to cheating since 2014 – up from an average of 3.5% over the last 40 years.
It means about one in seven recent graduates have paid someone else to do their work for them – which could represent 31 million people worldwide. Essay mills are legal in the UK.
The study, undertaken by Prof Phil Newton, looked at information dating back 40 years and covered 54,514 participants from around the world.
But Prof Newton, director of learning and teaching at Swansea Medical School, suggested the number could be much higher, as students who have paid for essays to be written are far less likely to volunteer to take part in surveys on cheating.
“These findings underscore the need for legislation to tackle essay mills, alongside improvements in the way students are assessed and awareness-raising of the fundamentals of academic integrity,” he said.
They are banned in the United States and New Zealand, while other countries are actively developing legislation to tackle them.
Despite not being illegal, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which monitors standards in higher education in the UK, said submitting an essay written by someone else is a form of plagiarism, and pupils could face expulsion from university if caught.
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