Students’ social media targeted by essay cheat sites

It’s been revealed that students are being personally contacted by essay cheat sites to tempt buying ‘custom made essays’. 

Numerous CCCU students have been approached by so-called ‘essay mills’ on social media and even on text messaging.

Students have received messages asking if they ‘need help with their coursework’ and told not to ‘gamble with their grades’.

Definition: Essay Mill

An essay mill (also term paper mill) is a business that allows customers to commission an original piece of writing on a particular topic so that they may commit academic fraud.

Essay writing companies or ‘essay mills’ are not illegal in the UK, but university ministers are pleading to have them banned – arguing that such businesses exploit on stressed students.

Students who submit work from essay mills are committing plagiarism and academic fraud, which can result in disqualification from a degree.

CCCU student Lauren David said that her and her fellow students receive messages from essay mills on a daily basis.

She said: “I have been contacted on so many occasions, personally and in our group chats.

“We get messages every single day and sometimes even a couple times day.”

Lauren’s university group chats: Essay mills have also gotten access to students’ instant messaging groups

The sociology student felt pressured and overwhelmed when she received the messages on her social media.

Lauren added: “Moving to university was daunting enough, it was a whole new experience, then to be bombarded with messages everyday – it added to it all.”

Another Christ Church undergraduate was offered a custom made 3000 word essay with a £300 price tag.

Claisse Opulencia received a private message from an essay mill representative through Facebook.

The third year journalism student was told that buying a pre-written essay was not cheating and would only boost her grades.

Some students have been directly contacted via private message on Facebook

The representative said: “You can do it by yourself but there is a difference in doing work by yourself and working with some expert with experience of more than nine years.”

Claisse was then reassured that their essays only had 4% plagiarism rate which can be directly submitted as her own.

One student was offered a £300 essay that could be finished in two weeks and guaranteed less than 5% plagiarism rate

After Claisse revealed that she was a journalism student, the representative retracted every single message she’d sent.

TJ Wilson, a first year undergraduate at Christ Church said that essay writing companies regularly post student Facebook groups.

He said: “They post on our course Facebook page on a regular basis. Even on Freshers and society groups.

“Luckily our course lecturers have been extremely good at removing them all.”

Essay writing companies are even handing out ‘savvy’ deals such as three essays for the price of one

One in seven students have admitted to paying someone else to do their work for them, according to a Swansea University survey.

Professor Newton who undertook the essay, believes that essay mills should be against the law.

He told the BBC: “These findings underscore the need for legislation to tackle essay mills, alongside improvements in the way students are assessed and awareness-raising of the fundamentals of academic integrity.”

Experts are worried that students would rather pay their way to a first class degree than honestly learning from it

The number of students caught cheating at the top UK universities have risen to more than a third in the last three years.

Experts believe that essay mills have been the leading factor to why cheating figures have shot up.

Although essay mills have been made illegal in other countries – they are in full right to offer their services to students in the UK.

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Claisse Opulencia

Editor-in-Chief of Unified. Claisse is a third year multimedia journalism student at CCCU. Amnesty Media Award Finalist 2018, IRN Awards Runner-up 2018 and nominated for two SPA Awards 2018.

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