I must confess, right at the beginning here, that I have written an essay for one of these mills. The things I do in the pursuit of journalistic research, eh? And God Help anyone who tries to use it as well.
But apparently this sort of thing must be made illegal:
Cheating “essay mills” could be criminalised, under plans being considered by the Government which would see perpetrators sent to prison.
Ministers have signalled they would be willing to back a private members’ bill which outlaws plagiarism and punishes those who profit from it.
It comes amid fears that the burgeoning essay mills industry – where students pay private companies to complete their university work for them – is threatening the quality of a British university degree.
One of the things that such essay mill productions are not is plagiarism. The mills are really quite keen on checking that what is produced is in fact novel.
The Department for Education (DfE) has now convened an expert group which will advise ministers on how best to tackle the issue of contract cheating, including legislative options.
Now that is true, yes, it is indeed contract cheating. It’s also entirely possible that we’d like to stop such cheating. Again possibly, this extends to desiring to protect, even increase, the quality of a British university degree.
The answer to which is to stop term time essays counting toward a degree. To stop coursework being a part of a degree even. For the technology is out of the bag – the article says there are near 1,000 essay writing services out there. Making them illegal in the UK will have no great impact because, you know, this internet thing?
It is thus necessary to adapt to their existence rather than try to abolish them. So, go back to a degree being determined by what is produced during a closed and timed exam. Finals that is, not coursework. The problem then goes away.
Note that we’ve already got a certain adaptation. It used to be that the exam was done with paper and whatever book of equations or quotes or whatever the examiner thought you should have. The spread of electronics has meant that that’s not really maintainable. Thus exams have tended – tended – to become what is called “open book”. We know enough people are going to lie, smuggle and cheat sources in. So, restructure the exams so that anyone can use any source they like and test them on what they can construct from them.
Yes, obviously, that would bias against turgid essays insisting that da poverty of da youf is down to the inherent contradictions within capitalism and the white supremacy of colonial hangovers but then the thing that’s wrong with that is?