The Telegraph reports that university lecturers are topping up their earnings by helping students cheat in their degree, a government-backed review will suggest.
The inquiry was commissioned by ministers amid concerns that universities are gripped by an epidemic of so-called “essay mills”, which sell essays, coursework or exam answers to students.
Institutions which repeatedly turn a blind eye to cheating could be stripped of their powers to award degrees by the Government’s new regulator, the Office for Students (OFS), The Sunday Telegraph has learned.
Academic staff and lecturers are among those paid by “essay mill” companies to complete work for students, the report by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the UK’s independent quality body for higher education, is expected to find.
“These are hard-pressed research assistants or lecturers, topping up their earnings. Many companies claim they get genuine academics to write their material. To make their businesses viable, they need to attract people who know enough about the subject,” said Douglas Blackstock, chief executive of the QAA.
The report will recommend that universities add an explicit clause into academic staff contracts to explain that “assisting a student to commit an academic offence, or ignoring evidence of misconduct, would be a cause for a staff disciplinary investigation”.
While universities already use complex anti-plagiarism software to detect the copying of academic texts, the process of contract cheating – where students submit paid-for essays as their own original work – means that examiners and markers are powerless to prevent foul play.
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