Craccum spoke with University of Auckland’s Senior Academic Quality Analyst, Rebecca White, regarding contract cheating which has been increasing both globally and within the University.
White describes contract cheating as “a very serious breach of academic integrity”. The term describes the act of getting someone else to complete coursework, a test, or an exam on your behalf. This can be paid or unpaid, and the person who completes the work doesn’t have to be a stranger, and can even be a classmate. Cases of contract cheating are carefully investigated, and if found to have happened can result in a variety of penalties. This may include a fine, a complete grade reduction, a suspension, or expulsion.
White said that when contract cheating takes place, it isn’t always intentional. She outlined Guy Curtis’ telltale signs you are looking at an illegal cheating site, which include:
- Asking for payment to complete assignment work for you.
- Assurances that they offer good quality writers/writing.
- · An “Order” button.
- Prices linked to assignment length and completion times.
- Attempts to justify why buying assignments might be “okay”.
- Testimonials from “customers”, often accompanied by stock photos of people who aren’t real students.
- Guarantees of “plagiarism-free” work.
- The need to create a personal account and login.
- “Terms of service” that disclaim responsibility if students are caught submitting work from the site.
- Various service guarantees such as 24/7 support, live chat, feedback, or money-back if unsatisfied (research shows they don’t always deliver on these).
When asked about the potential vulnerabilities for students when being blackmailed after partaking in contract cheating, and if this has happened before, White responded with “This happens all the time. You need to remember that when you engage someone to complete a piece of work for you, one thing you know about them is that they are already comfortable with a certain level of dishonesty. So, we often get contacted by people who have been ‘hired’ to complete a piece of work for a student, giving us evidence of the agreement. Usually they claim they were never paid so they are reporting the student, but it is equally likely they were indeed paid and are now just blackmailing the student. And remember, your details will stay with these people forever. Another way students become vulnerable is when a ‘study support’ website asks a student to upload an old piece of work in exchange for access to the site. They can then sell your work to another student, which could then be detected by Turnitin. Equally, they could sell you an essay, which has already been sold to another student, which also gets detected by Turnitin.”
For students who may be struggling with their courses and considering contract cheating, it is advised that talking to the staff members of your course is always a valid option, regardless, and is the bravest thing you can do. Reaching out to staff and University resources may seem simple, but can be a quick solution to a problem. For those struggling with the English language components of their course, meeting with a language advisor may also be beneficial. The University counselling services were also recommended. And remember, go easy on yourself sometimes. If students have any other ideas of how the University can controlling the rise of contract cheating, you are able to contact the University at email@example.com