Contract Cheating Hits 15% – Will Be 20% By 2028?

As the latest study from Phil Newton shows, 15% of current students have paid a third party to complete their work for them.

Looking at survey results from over 50,000 students, dating back to 1978, Phil has shown a sharp and significant increase in the percentage of students who are contract cheating.

At the current rate of increase, the figure is rising by around 5% every 10 years. If nothing changes and the linear rate of increase continues, we could expect to see 20% of students contract cheating by 2028 (or 25% by 2038).

Speaking in Times Higher Education, Phil said:

To tackle the problem, we are going to have to have more conversations with staff and students about academic integrity and how to promote it and, clearly, we need legislation. As countries like [the Republic of] Ireland and the US legislate against it, the UK risks becoming the country where essay mills find it easy to do business.

It certainly is time to act. A whole range of measures are necessary, not just legislation, but also looking at the way students are taught and assessed to prepare them for the employment available to them today.

Student Union Support For Stopping Contract Cheating Is Growing

Do students think that we should “defeat the cheat”? Or should we “excel with integrity”?

It’s really great to see Students Unions getting on board to share the message that cheating is wrong.

Here’s a video discussion which originally formed a live broadcast on Facebook between Darren Clarke, Student Union President at Staffordshire University and Dr. Thomas Lancaster. This was recorded as part of the 2nd International Day of Action against Contract Cheating.

At the end, you can see Darren give his whiteboard declaration showing his support for the campaign.

We’re encouraging more Student Unions to support events like this. They don’t have to be timed with the International Day of Action (which was also Global Ethics Day). Getting students involved in saying no to cheating is really having a positive effect on academic integrity.

Quality Assurance Agency Recommendations On Contract Cheating Attract Media Interest

The Quality Assurance Agency in the UK released a set of recommendations for universities and higher education providers discussing how they should be acting regarding the threat of contract cheating.

As taken straight from their press release, the guidelines recommend:

  • clear information for students on the risks of cheating, including academic misconduct being reported to relevant professional bodies
  • support for students to develop independent study skills, including academic writing
  • using a range of assessment methods to limit opportunities for cheating
  • blocking¬†essay mill sites and taking¬†action against essay mill advertising on campus
  • smarter detection, including new software and greater familiarity with students’ personal styles and capabilities
  • appropriate support for whistle blowing – to protect accuser as well as accused
  • student involvement on academic misconduct policies and panels.

The media picked up on the story, particularly within the UK.

The Guardian focused particularly on the recommendation for universities to block access to essay mills, taking quotes from several people prominent in the academic integrity field, myself included.

The Telegraph went for a story before the official report release, suggesting that lecturers were working for essay mills and helping students to cheat (but evidence to support this is rather limited).

I participated in live TV and radio interviews. You can see a clip from my appearance on BBC TV here:

I also contributed articles based around different aspects of the story. You can see coverage on the Conversation and discussion on LinkedIn.

As is so often the case, it’s interesting to see how the media in India have managed to turn this into a local story. The quotes assigned to me in that piece are from me, but they’ve gone through several years of recycling. It’s interesting how they continue to find ways to make them fit!