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As the UK's independent body safeguarding quality and standards in higher education, QAA works with sector agencies, government departments, regulators, politicians and academics with expertise in academic misconduct to protect academic integrity and prevent cheating and fraud.
Academic misconduct presents a threat to the world-class reputation of UK higher education. Students who cheat risk their academic and future careers.

The implications go far wider than higher education. Cheating in higher education is a societal problem. Students who cheat can enter the workforce without the necessary skills, knowledge and competency, with potential public health and safety implications.

While we are concerned about all forms of cheating in higher education, we have a particular interest in essay mills, commercial entities that make money by encouraging students to cheat. 


What is academic integrity?


In this short video, Harry South (Worcester Students' Union) and Stephanie Lomas (UCLan Students' Union) explain what academic integrity is, what the consequences of academic misconduct can be, and highlight the different kinds of support available to students within their own institutions.

Academic Integrity Charter

QAA, with the support of the Academic Integrity Advisory Group, has developed an Academic Integrity Charter for UK higher education. It is intended to provide a baseline position upon which UK providers, as autonomous institutions, can build their own policies and practices to ensure that every student’s qualification is genuine, verifiable and respected.


We are inviting UK universities and colleges to sign up to this Academic Integrity Charter during the academic year 2020-21.


Academic Integrity Advisory Group

QAA also runs an Academic Integrity Advisory Group made up of expert academics, sector agencies, organisations and individuals working to protect academic integrity, and student representatives. UK governments, regulators and funders sit as observers.



QAA/Jisc Guidance on Emerging Cyber Security Threats to the Integrity of UK Teaching and Learning

Publication Date: 16 Aug 2021

Contracting to Cheat in Higher Education: How to Address Essay Mills and Contract Cheating (Second edition)

Publication Date: 18 Jun 2020

Contracting to Cheat in Higher Education: How to Address Contract Cheating, the Use of Third-Party Services and Essay Mills (First edition)

Publication Date: 09 Oct 2017

Plagiarism in Higher Education - Custom essay writing services: an exploration and next steps for the UK higher education sector

Publication Date: 20 Aug 2016


A paper on academic integrity was presented by QAA at the 13th European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF) in November 2017.

ASA ruling

In 2017, QAA successfully lodged a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) against the essay mill company UK Essays