Students: Plagiarism

Department for Education written question – answered on 23rd March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of essay mills and contract cheating on academic integrity in UK universities.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The use of fake qualifications or plagiarised assignments is unacceptable. It not only threatens to undermine the reputation of our world-class higher education sector, but also devalues the hard work of those who succeed on their own merit.

It is vitally important that providers themselves take action to tackle essay mills, as it is their own reputations and that of the wider higher education sector that are on the line.

There are a number of initiatives currently underway or planned that aim to get to grips with this issue. This includes the Quality Assurance Agency updating guidance to support higher education providers in combatting contract cheating via education, prevention and detection. Guidance published by the National Union of Students also seeks to make students better aware of the consequences of contract cheating, sending a clear message that these services are not legitimate.

We have set a clear expectation that the Office for Student (OfS) should take a visible lead in challenging the sector to eliminate the use of essay mills. We expect the OfS to work with the members of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment to ensure that the sector has the support it needs, and that it is taking firm and robust action to ensure that this threat to the integrity of our higher education system is being tackled.

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