Reality Check
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It has been widely reported this morning that offering essay-writing services to students for a fee will become a criminal offence, as part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

According to the BBC, 'A 2018 survey suggested that 15.7% of recent graduates admitted to cheating, but Universities UK said that the use of essay mills by students was rare....The National Union of Students said: "These private companies prey on students' vulnerabilities and insecurities to make money through exploitation, and never more so than during the pandemic."'

Is this a good move? Will weak students who might be drawn to using essay mills just find another way of cheating with their assessments? Does the answer lie more in examining why so many students, according to the 2018 survey, seem to feel that academic cheating is acceptable, and to make this sort of academic malpractice as unacceptable as other forms of fraud?

Evil Homer, StrawberryDreams
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mnot
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Good, i was glad to see this a couple years ago when a junior minister (forget who it was) said they wanted to ban them. Seems like it’s finally worked it’s way through the walls at whitehall.

From a students perspective they were already banned but the repercussions of academic misconduct didn’t provide enough incentive not to use them for all.

Hopefully this legislation will mean advertisers will be more willing to remove online advertising of these essaymills & they are easier to shut down.
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Callicious
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(Original post by Reality Check)
It has been widely reported this morning that offering essay-writing services to students for a fee will become a criminal offence, as part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

According to the BBC, 'A 2018 survey suggested that 15.7% of recent graduates admitted to cheating, but Universities UK said that the use of essay mills by students was rare....The National Union of Students said: "These private companies prey on students' vulnerabilities and insecurities to make money through exploitation, and never more so than during the pandemic."'

Is this a good move? Will weak students who might be drawn to using essay mills just find another way of cheating with their assessments? Does the answer lie more in examining why so many students, according to the 2018 survey, seem to feel that academic cheating is acceptable, and to make this sort of academic malpractice as unacceptable as other forms of fraud?

Evil Homer, StrawberryDreams
Good that this is happening. Any kind of academic malpractice is a **** move.
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the bear
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these Mills were a Boon for less talented students :ahee:
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mqb2766
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Interesting definition of "rare" as 16% admitted to it, so the real proportion is likely to be higher. Still if UK Universities admitted it was a problem, they might have to do more to deal with it. Having said that, can't see banning them will have that much effect. (Some) Essay mills are based outside the UK, you have new apps which advertise as giving complete answers to questions (again based outside the UK), ...

It would be interesting to see some form of timeline and see if things are getting worse.
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mqb2766
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(Original post by the bear)
these Mills were a Boon for less talented students :ahee:
Off to the workhouse for you with that one ...
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LeoKisia
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(Original post by Reality Check)
It has been widely reported this morning that offering essay-writing services to students for a fee will become a criminal offence, as part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

According to the BBC, 'A 2018 survey suggested that 15.7% of recent graduates admitted to cheating, but Universities UK said that the use of essay mills by students was rare....The National Union of Students said: "These private companies prey on students' vulnerabilities and insecurities to make money through exploitation, and never more so than during the pandemic."'

Is this a good move? Will weak students who might be drawn to using essay mills just find another way of cheating with their assessments? Does the answer lie more in examining why so many students, according to the 2018 survey, seem to feel that academic cheating is acceptable, and to make this sort of academic malpractice as unacceptable as other forms of fraud?

Evil Homer, StrawberryDreams
99% of all essay mills are foreign based.....mostly in India, Pakistan and parts of Africa. How will one prosecute them?
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Math.Qs
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I don't study essay subjects. So how does it work? How can you be sure that the person writing your essay will know the specification/syllabus that you are studying for and write a satisfactory essay for that syllabus.

Post-16 education in UK is a clown system. There are other pressing matters they should address such as the use of predicted grades. Teachers have no actual guidelines to adhere to when giving out predicted grades. Therefore, if you are lucky enough to have a lenient teacher who will give you good predicted despite being only a C grade student then you can apply to top university. It works the other way also. There are some strict teachers who do not give out A* predictions unless you score full marks in your tests!
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Admit-One
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Whilst this is a welcome move, I'm a bit sceptical as to whether it will have big impact. A lot of these mills already present their work as 'example essays' so I would imagine they'll just move to selling 'essay notes' of varying levels of completeness and argue that they are not complete essays in their own right. I think it might be difficult to uphold depending on the wording of the legislation.
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Chronoscope
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Shocked its not already banned tbh. About time too.
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artful_lounger
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Now I can report essay writing services being advertised on here as illegal content instead of just spam :holmes:
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Fullofsurprises
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This reminds me of the attempts to shut down call centre scams. Since most of them operate from countries with poor judicial systems and lack of cooperation with UK criminal authorities, efforts to block them or make them illegal generally fail completely and this one will be no different. There was a programme about them on Radio 4 the other day and they mostly operate from Kenya and India.
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JVM2020
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Universities should advise against essay writing services for a fee

At University of Cumbria, there are lectures available on essay writing and how to structure your essay

Not all students are confident in how they structure or write their essays so there must always be in University availability on this
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moonkatt
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(Original post by JVM2020)
Universities should advise against essay writing services for a fee

At University of Cumbria, there are lectures available on essay writing and how to structure your essay

Not all students are confident in how they structure or write their essays so there must always be in University availability on this
There usually is. Most have an entire department that provides academic support to students.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by Math.Qs)
I don't study essay subjects. So how does it work? How can you be sure that the person writing your essay will know the specification/syllabus that you are studying for and write a satisfactory essay for that syllabus.

Post-16 education in UK is a clown system. There are other pressing matters they should address such as the use of predicted grades. Teachers have no actual guidelines to adhere to when giving out predicted grades. Therefore, if you are lucky enough to have a lenient teacher who will give you good predicted despite being only a C grade student then you can apply to top university. It works the other way also. There are some strict teachers who do not give out A* predictions unless you score full marks in your tests!
How is ramping up predictions sensible? The student gets an offer they will miss and so end up in clearing ...

I am held to account for my predictions, as are many teachers, if grades are missed then I have to explain why.
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JVM2020
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(Original post by moonkatt)
There usually is. Most have an entire department that provides academic support to students.
My University gave my class lectures on essays / referencing. They discussed descriptive and critical writing in essays.

This should be taught to all academic institutes to prevent disaster striking.
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gjd800
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In principle it is a good thing but in practicality I don't think it'll make a blind bit of difference.
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englishhopeful98
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i think the question is how did they get through a levels in the first place?
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gjd800
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(Original post by englishhopeful98)
i think the question is how did they get through a levels in the first place?
My experience of teaching at both KS5 and in HE is that A-levels rely on spoon-feeding and exam coaching.

The amount of A-grade students at A-level that I have had get a 52 or lower in their first couple of degree-level essays is insane, so much so that a large part of my new job is changing this disconnection and dragging first years up to where they need to be.
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Math.Qs
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(Original post by Muttley79)
How is ramping up predictions sensible? The student gets an offer they will miss and so end up in clearing ...

I am held to account for my predictions, as are many teachers, if grades are missed then I have to explain why
I am not saying to ramp up predictions. I am saying that the predicted grades system needs to end. It's an obivously flawed system. Some teacher's subjective bias shouldn't be the deciding factor in whether someone gets an offer from a top university. Do you honestly think it's fair that two students equal in academic level will have different predicted grades because they have different teachers? Such subjective BS has no place in Uni admissions.

A fairer system would be admission tests offered by all universities OR actual official exams which decide your predicted grades.
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