Always a hot potato tossed around on the Learning Development in Higher Education Network forum, LDHEN@JISCMAIL.AC.UK, the use of essay mills by students paying someone to do their assignments, even dissertations, has hit the headlines again. According to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), there are now more than 100 essay mill websites in operation, with fees ranging from a few hundred pounds to several thousand for a weightier PhD thesis. The government is proposing a crackdown on students if they submit someone else’s work as their own, but not the essay mills themselves; effectively ratcheting up the level of what is generally labelled by universities as an academic offence. It appears as though the plagiarising student will be punished more severely, but the essay mills evade prosecution and continue their business operations, Thence, I tweeted a link to a brief Guardian article earlier about student experiences of using essay mills, which also records how puzzled some tutors are at why students thank them for obtaining them a pass or even helping them through their degree.

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