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UCL backs tougher action against ‘essay mills’

11 September 2018

UCL has welcomed calls for tougher action against so-called ‘essay mill’ companies, which can charge students thousands of pounds to write customised essays.

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A new petition to Parliament has warned that ‘essay mills’ undermine the high standards of universities and are unfair to honest students. It calls on the UK Government to follow the lead of the Irish and New Zealand governments in announcing a new law that would make it illegal to provide or advertise contract cheating services.

An investigation by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has found that hundreds of companies in the UK are producing work for students to pass off as their own and has estimated that around 17,000 students have been caught using these services. It has made a number of recommendations for providing more support for struggling students.

UCL strictly forbids the use of ghost-writing agencies and anyone who makes use of these services is liable for an academic penalty. The university uses a sophisticated detection system (Turnitin®) to scan work for evidence of plagiarism.

UCL’s President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur said: “UCL is deeply committed to academic integrity, which is at the heart of everything we do. Maintaining the highest academic standards is fundamental to ensuring continued trust and confidence in our world-leading research and teaching, as well as the individuals who work and study here.

 “Essay mills go against every principle that UCL stands for. These cheat services disadvantage honest students and devalue standards in our universities by preying on anxiety for profit.  UCL fully supports the petition for essay mills to be outlawed and urges the UK Government to consider following the lead of other countries in banning them.”

Any member of the UCL community who wishes to support the petition can sign here.

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Credit: Mary Hinkley 

Media contact

Kirsty Walker

Tel: +44 203 108 6086

Email: kirsty.walker@ucl.ac.uk