Blog: Essay Mills Don't Pay the Bills

We've all been there. The fragrance of coffee wafts past your nose. Your arm holding your face up slips. You spring awake and stare at the time. It doesn’t matter what the exact time is, you just know the deadline is approaching. The first sign that real trouble has arrived is when you look out to Founder’s and see the sun rising.

It's an easy way out. Your friends from home have told you they have done it and had no problems. We're talking about those sites where you can ‘buy an essay’. Need a 2:1 in less than 24 hours? They've got your back! Need 80%? Well, give them a week and they have that sorted too!  Need a comfortable First? They can do that too! Blimey, need a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that solves all of the world’s problems? They can probably do that as well!

At times, university can be incredibly stressful. Sometimes this is due to all the other stresses going on in life and sometimes this is just because you have taken this slight dip and forgotten a looming deadline. These things happen. But the important thing is not to be lured into the temptation of these websites, and here is why:

Plagiarism.

They will all claim to be 100% plagiarism free, they advertise themselves as being able to get by the systems. But let's not forget our old friend, Turnitin. Nothing gets by Turnitin, and let’s be honest with ourselves, these websites have been in operation for a couple of years which means the same essays have been recycled and circulated. The only thing these websites can guarantee is that the essay you buy from them will have already been bought by someone else.

Quality.

A guaranteed 2:1 or First? Guaranteed? There is absolutely no way that such a grade can be guaranteed and there is no knowing who has written the essay – and the qualifications or experience, or lack thereof, that they have. Although you may be doubting your own ability at times, I can assure you that your knowledge and skill is far superior to that of the essays being sold to you!

You’re a victim.

The sites may sell it to you that you are a customer who will be paying a small charge for an essay that will be of excellent quality. Well, the sad news is that you aren’t a customer at all. You’re a victim. These services have no regard for customer service, or your academic interests. They also lack any form of customer service and there are no safety nets in place once you realise you have been mis-sold.

Degree Worth.

Although gaining a degree classification is significant upon leaving university, what is absolutely more essential is acquiring, developing, and demonstrating the skills that you have learnt along the way. When you enter a job after university, you may be left with a degree that is not representative of your skills, as you have cheated yourself out of the opportunity to develop them.

Finally, there is the morality of it. You know that it isn’t the right thing to do, yet it is tempting nonetheless when the deadline approaches and your brain just isn’t ticking.

How would you be able to look your Nan in the eye when she congratulates you and frames that graduation picture when you know you cheated yourself out of that experience?

Ultimately, while you are cheating the system (and will, inevitably, get caught out), the main deterrence is that you are cheating yourself.

So what is being done?

Recently, 46 university vice chancellors wrote to the education secretary calling for a ban on the companies that provide this service. Currently, it is not illegal in the UK for a company to offer a commercial essay writing service and the importance of action on this issue is increasing. According to a recent study, around 15% of university students have cheated in the past 4 years, compared to only 3.5% over the past 40 years.

Sam Gyimah, Minster for Universities, stated that he expects universities to be educating students about the risks of essay mills; he has also said that he is working with organisations to prevent the advertisement of these services on platforms such as YouTube. However, the letter is saying that this should go further with the introduction of legislative action to ban these services.

You can sign the petition here

Don’t get lured in by the cheat sites. There is always an alternative, and that is found in planning, speaking to your friends, course rep, personal tutor, and believing in yourself.

 

Unrelated Dad joke: Why can’t you play board games in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Because there are too many Cheetahs.

Jack O'Neill // Vice President, Education