Companies that sells plagiarised essays to students are “immoral”, Scottish universities have said.
Last year it emerged that more than 20,000 students are buying professionally-written essays every year at universities across the UK.
Whilst universities already operate strict anti-plagiarism systems to detect the copying of academic texts, the process of contract cheating where students purchase professionally-written essays to submit as their own original work means examiners find it much harder to prevent foul play.
“Essay mills and other companies offering services of this nature are acting immorally on all levels,” a spokesman for Universities Scotland said.
“Universities are aware of this type of business and have software in place to detect plagiarism. Staff take all forms of academic dishonesty extremely seriously and are vigilant to plagiarism and cheating.
“Submitting work written by someone else is cheating and devalues the efforts of students who work hard to achieve their degrees.”
Luke Humberstone, president of NUS Scotland, said students feeling the pressure of academic life shouldn’t see essay mills as the easy solution.
He said: “The easy solution is the tailored support that should already exist on campuses. This has to mean not just ensuring they have the financial support they need, but that counselling, pastoral, and academic services are available and well-sign-posted too.”
Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, added: “University staff are really sympathetic to the pressures students find themselves under, but it’s never the answer to turn to the firms who provide these services.
“University study is about developing critical analytical skills, and any growth of these exploitative “essay mill” firms is a negative side of market driven education.
“We’d urge students who felt they were struggling to speak to the staff teaching them instead of handing money over to dodgy businesses.”