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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

QAA to work with Universities UK and NUS to tackle essay mills

Date 21/02/2017

QAA was today asked by Universities Minister Jo Johnson to work with sector colleagues to tackle the problem of essay mills in UK higher education. In his letter to QAA the Minister described the issue as, ‘central to the quality and reputation of higher education in the UK.’

The request follows a QAA report on contract cheating, where essays are bought to order and work submitted as the student’s own, published in August 2016. That investigation found that it is a global issue, and will require a variety of approaches to combat.

Assessing the scale and effectively combatting the issue is challenging, as assignments can often bypass plagiarism detection software. Companies that sell essays to order often distance themselves from claims of impropriety, selling them as ‘study aids’.

QAA looks forward to working with the sector to address essay mills. Students need to be aware of and protected from the consequences of cheating, which also potentially threatens the academic standards and reputation of UK higher education.