Amendment 53

Part of Skills and Post-16 Education Bill [HL] - Report (2nd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 21 October 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Wolf of Dulwich Baroness Wolf of Dulwich Non-affiliated 7:00, 21 October 2021

My Lords, I, too, strongly welcome the amendments tabled in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, and the noble Lord, Lord Storey, which seek to address the pernicious effects of essay mills. I must declare an interest as an adviser on skills to the Prime Minister and as an academic employee of King’s College London. That is why I want to take this opportunity to say how important and welcome these amendments are. I pay particular tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Storey, who has been passionate and determined. Without his recognition that this is a major and serious issue which can be tackled, I am sure that these amendments would not have been tabled tonight.

There are a number of reasons why cheating has become a major problem for universities. It is partly to do with the pressure on people to get formal qualifications, the scale of universities and the temptation—you can do things you could not do before. There are two major sources of this. One is plagiarism, where we can fight software with software, and one is essay mills, where we cannot. I am quite sure that there will be a major improvement as a result of these measures: the firms will be unable to operate and students will take much more note of the risks attached to doing something illegal with these measures in place. The noble Lord, Lord Storey, has escaped, so I will send thanks in his direction. I say on behalf teaching academics all over the country that they will be extremely happy to see these amendments to the Bill, because it is almost impossible to know if somebody has used a commissioned essay.