Skip to main content Accessibility Statement

Although many higher education institutions have proofreading policies to manage expectations between staff and students, they vary substantively in their prescription.


Essay mills often use the term ‘proofreading’ deceptively to disguise their criminality and mislead students into unregulated and exploitative contracts. Online grammar checkers, translation software and paraphrasing programmes can further compound students’ confusion relating to academic expectations. The inconsistency of messaging around legitimate and otherwise use of technology and support can lead to academic misconduct, which is detrimental to student outcomes, wellbeing and experience.


First-generation to access HE, disabled, international and Global Ethnic Majority groups are often overrepresented in academic misconduct cases connected to proof reading. Institutional policies are not always clearly articulated in accessible language, due to the necessity to fit within university policy frameworks.


Students’ Union advisors who support the student body prior to and during academic misconduct cases, report that tension exists between the messaging of encouraging students to keep their work secure and allowing them to share their work to be proofread (and consequently relinquishing control over it).


This project will focus in on three necessary questions:

  1. What is the best training possible for self-proofreading?
  2. What tools should be allowed to support that process?
  3. How can policy terminology be amended to make the requirements accessible to enable staff and all students, regardless of their backgrounds, to have a good and fair assessment experience?

Led by 5 student Union teams and underpinned by academic staff with academic integrity expertise across 7 institutions, this project aims to compare the key elements of proofreading policies across the sector, considering recent developments and technological advances.


The results of the project will be disseminated in the publication of good practice guides for students and staff which will be shared across the sector.

Project lead:

Loughborough University

Project partners:

Coventry University, University of Northampton, De Montfort University, University of Wolverhampton, Swansea University and Imperial College London

Other Collaborative Enhancement Projects

QAA supports a number of projects every year, covering a range of topics and interest areas. Each is led by a QAA Member, working in collaboration with other members institutions. You can find more information on all projects, and access resources and outputs, on our website.