International Journal for Educational Integrity volume 13, Article number: 3 ( 2017 ) | Download Citation
Many strategies have now been proposed to address the application of Essay Mills and other ‘contract cheating’ services by students. These types of services generally offer bespoke custom-written essays or other assignments to students in return for a fee. There has been calls for the utilization of legal methods to tackle the issue. Here we determine whether the united kingdom Fraud Act (2006) might be used to tackle a number of the activities of companies providing these types of services when you look at the UK, by comparing their practises that are common and their Terms and Conditions, with the Act. We unearthed that all the sites examined have disclaimers about the use of their products but there are lots of obvious contradictions in the actions regarding the sites which undermine these disclaimers, for instance all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the work and also at least eight have advertising which appears to contradict their terms and conditions. We identify possible areas in which the Act could be used to follow a legal case but overall conclude that such a method is unlikely to be effective. We call for a new offence to be created in UK law which specifically targets the undesirable behaviours among these companies in the UK, even though principles could possibly be applied elsewhere. We also highlight other UK approaches that are legal may be much more successful.
The utilization of so-called ‘contract cheating’ services by students happens to be a way to obtain controversy and debate within advanced schooling, particularly into the decade that is last. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, towards the outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who complete work on their behalf in return for a fee or other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These types of services offer ‘custom assignments’ of almost any form, although custom written essays appear to be the most common. Students tend to be able to specify the grade they need (even though there is custom writing not any guarantee this will be delivered), request drafts, referencing styles and virtually any other custom feature (Newton and Lang 2016). Services available are cheap and quick(Wallace and Newton 2014) and students underestimate the severity with which universities penalise making use of contract cheating services (Newton 2015). Probably the simplest arrangements are directly between students and essay that is‘custom companies’, many of whom are ‘listed’ companies with sophisticated promotional initiatives. However there are numerous ways in which students can use third parties to work that is complete them, with the contract spread across continents; writers may act as freelancers, doing work in another country towards the student and their institution. These freelance home writers will make use of online auction services to advertise and organise their work and these may be in still another national country, and there might be another intermediary; an individual who receives your order through the student and then posts the job on an auction site (Newton and Lang 2016; Sivasubramaniam et al. 2016). Thus you will find multiple actors in contract cheating, a number of of whom could be liable if their actions violate what the law states; students, their universities, the persons paying tuition fees, writers, those that employ writers, web sites which host the writers, advertising companies, those who host the advertising, and so forth. Here we focus primarily on UK-registered essay-writing companies.
Across education, a student who completes an assessment to earn credit towards an award is generally expected to do this from the explicit basis that the submission is the own work that is independent. Ideally, both students and staff are given guidance about what constitutes misconduct that is academic the consequences of these misconduct (Morris 2015), in a manner that promotes a confident, constructive approach to fostering ‘academic integrity’ (Thomas and Scott 2016). If a student submits work that is shown to comprise, in whole or in part, material which is not their own independent work then that student will normally face a variety of penalties, administered by their university, for academic misconduct. In britain these usually include cancellation of marks for the relevant module or perhaps the relevant component of the module susceptible to any mitigating circumstances (Tennant and Duggan 2008). Historically, these behaviours haven’t been dealt with through legal mechanisms in britain (QAA 2016) and this relates to plagiarism outside academic circumstances which, in the words of Saunders,”. just isn’t by itself illegal; it is only illegal if it breaches a recognised legal right, such as copyright, or offends against the law of misrepresentation or other legal rules” (Saunders 2010).
However, a commonly used test in creating legal decisions would be to decide how a ‘reasonable person’ might view a behaviour that is particular. If asked to describe the purchasing of essays for submission when it comes to purposes of gaining academic credit it seems logical to summarize that a fair person would conclude that such behaviour is ‘fraudulent’, particularly because of the language associated with it (e.g. ‘cheating’). If another individual has knowingly assisted in that activity chances are they might reasonably be said to have assisted, conspired or colluded this kind of academic fraud, cheating or dishonesty.
Then it is clear that the student commits academic misconduct, but what of the individual or company that supplied the work in return for payment if a student has purchased written work from another individual or a company for the purpose of passing it off as his or her own work? From what extent is that individual or company (an ‘assistor’) complicit this kind of misconduct? What’s the liability that is potential of assistor and certainly will action be used against them? Will be the assistors by their action inciting academic fraud? An educational institution cannot normally take action against the assistor under internal disciplinary procedures unless the assistor is a student in the same institution. In addition, as well as perhaps more to the point, will there be the likelihood of fraudulent behaviour within the relationship between your student in addition to company?
Broadly, legal wrongs committed in England and Wales may be addressed through the civil or law that is criminalUK Government 2016a). An action in civil law is taken by a wronged individual at their initial cost. This cost is often prohibitive and in addition normally requires the formulation of a claim recognised because of the law that evidences loss or harm to the claimant that is individual by the defendant and for which an answer is sought. Thus the capability of educational institutions (or a student for instance) to take civil action against assistors is bound.
Action in relation to UK criminal law is normally undertaken by as well as the price of the state through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but requires a criminal offence to have been committed (private prosecutions at private cost are possible but relatively rare). The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out of the basic principles to be followed closely by Crown Prosecutors if they make case decisions. Crown Prosecutors must certanly be satisfied that there surely is evidence that is enough provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” and that it is the public interest to pursue a prosecution (UK Government 2013).
An intention of the paper is always to measure the extent that a company organisation who supplies an essay or written work upon instructions from a student in return for money could be liable under the criminal law of England and Wales for an offence beneath the Fraud Act 2006 (The Act) (UK Government 2006). The Act commenced operation on 15 2007 by the Fraud Act 2006 (Commencement) Order 2006 SI 2006/3200 january. The Act applies to offences committed wholly on or after 15 January 2007 and also includes England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In August 2016 the UK regulator of advanced schooling, the Quality Assurance agency, considered all methods to cope with contract cheating, a problem that they stated “poses a significant risk to the academic standards in addition to integrity of UK higher education” (QAA 2016). Their consideration of possible legal approaches under existing law concluded that the Fraud Act was the “nearest applicable legislation”, but they would not reach a strong conclusion on its use, stating that “Case law seems to indicate a reluctance in the an element of the courts to be engaged in cases involving plagiarism, deeming this to be a matter for academic judgement that falls outside of the competence for the court (Hines v Birkbeck College 1985 3 All ER 15)” (QAA 2016).
The QAA state that the UK 2006 Fraud Act is “untested in this context” in their conclusion. Here we explore the detail for the Fraud Act further, and compare it towards the established business practises of UK-registered essay-writing companies, with a particular focus on their Terms and Conditions.