UK University Chiefs Call For Country-Wide Ban on Essay Mills

46 leaders from the UK's top universities have written a letter to the Secretary of State for Education asking for tougher legislation against essay-writing services.
Loukia Papadopoulos

University leaders across the UK are joining forces to demand that essay-writing companies be made illegal in the country. In a letter, submitted today to The Right Honourable Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education, 46 education executives demanded an end to "essay mills."

An increasing problem

"We are writing to urge you to take action against the increasing problem of so-called essay mills, companies that facilitate contract cheating by producing assignments-to-order for students. Essay mills undermine the integrity of UK Higher Education and are unfair to the vast majority of honest, hard-working students," read the statement.

The university chiefs asked that steps be taken to curb these practices including a legislative ban on both essay mills operations and advertising. In addition, a petition to ban these so-called "cheating" services was also posted on the UK Government and Parliament petitions' site. 

"'Essay mills' provide custom written essays for students to cheat with. Prices range from a couple of hundred pounds for a single essay to over £6,750 for a PhD dissertation. This undermines the high standards of universities and is unfair to honest students - but is currently legal," states the petition.

The post claims there are "over 100 essay mills websites currently in operation" and has already received nearly 5,000 signatures. At 10,000 the petition will see a response from the government.

Legislation not off the table

Meanwhile, universities minister Sam Gyimah took to Twitter to express his support for essay-mills curbing measures in a series of tweets. The official said that "legislative options" were not off the table but that he expected the institutions to also take steps to "tackle" the issue.

More importantly, Gyimah emphasized the importance of universities as learning institutions that should not encourage students to take the easy way out. "Students work incredibly hard to get a place at university and those who choose to cheat risk throwing it all away, cheating their futures, for the sake of a short-cut," wrote the minister.

According to a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Educationas many as one in seven recent graduates may have used the shady writing services during the last four years. However, some believe that the key to ending essay cheating is to simply inspire students to be more passionate about their course load.

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Time will tell how this situation unfolds, however, a little inspiration can go a long way. 

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