Australia Bans Essay Mills: What's Next for the Industry?
This year, Australian lawmakers have passed a legislation that makes it illegal to advertise or offer commercial writing services in higher education (which they coined as “contract cheating”).
What are its implications and what does the future hold for essay writing services?
"Contract Cheating" in Australia: What You Need to Know
This year in early September, the Australian government's Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has administered a law that carries heavy sanctions to companies or individuals that offer paid essay writing services.
TEQSA is making every effort to gather intelligence, block overseas essay mills and pursue prosecutions, and educate academic institutions to come up with prevention plans to combat contract cheating.
So what are these essay mills up against? The penalties are nothing to scoff at!
Anyone caught offering paid writing services to students will have to pay a fine of up to $100,000. Meanwhile, individuals who provide these services for free could also face civil prosecution, up to two years in jail.
How Do They Identify Contract Cheating?
What are the telltale signs you're dealing with a service that offers commercial cheating? According to TESQA, you need to watch out for the following:
- Websites, groups, or persons that offer paid essay writing services to students.
- Companies or individuals that sell pre-made essays, or accept money for someone to sit on exams in behalf of a student.
- Illegal companies that aggressively market their services on social media, email, or on-campus.
How to Avoid Cheating Services in Australia?
Nowadays, it can be difficult to tell apart illicit commercial writing services from a legitimate tutor, but in Australia it's best to avoid any service that:
- offers writing help for your essay/paper assignment or take an exam on your behalf, for a fee;
- pre-sells essays, study notes, test or other assessment resources;
- voluntarily offers “study support” via social media, email, or on-campus ads;
- requests you upload a previous written work or course material, in order to receive academic assistance.
Report Contract Cheating
TEQSA and Australia's higher education providers have worked together to create a vast network to fight essay mills, and to protect students and academic integrity against this type of services.
If you're studying in Australia and suspect contract cheating among your peers, you can report them to the following:
- Academic administration. If you receive information, material, or source that promotes suspected commercial writing service, send a report via email to your provider.
- TEQSA. You can directly report suspected contract cheating by sending an email
The following information should be included in your email:
- link to the website, social media account, or email address of the company/individual in question;
- supporting evidence i.e. screenshots.
The Essay Mill Purge: Is It Really Happening?
Yes. Whether you like it or not, the fact is that Australia's ban on these services is indeed happening, and there's no stopping the government from driving them out of the country for good.
Now we know that those who market and provide paid essay writing to students will have to face criminal prosecution, but what will happen to the student who engages in contract cheating?
Surprisingly, the law passed by TEQSA doesn't impose penalties on these students. However, the university's discipline policy still applies. This could vary from suspension to expulsion, depending on the institution's stand on violations of academic integrity.
For our Australian audience, getting involved with essay writing services is risky business. And the solution couldn't be more simple: Avoid using essay writing services.
Australian Ban: What Are Its Implications?
The timing to pass this legislation against essay mills couldn't be perfect. This year, millions of students across the globe turn to online learning to curb the spread of COVID-19. The loose nature of remote teaching and online learning means that cheating has significantly spiked in the past few months. The Australian government has seen this as the best time to do a crackdown on commercial cheating services.
According to a study on contract cheating in higher education, one of the best ways to mitigate this crisis is to make students aware that those in authority are, in fact, keeping a close watch on essay mills and anyone who does business with them. Because when academic providers don't send the right message, learners take this silence and ignorance as permission to cheat - that they actually think it's alright to use such services.
Countries like the UK and Ireland are already following in the footsteps of Australia and has moved to completely ban essay mills from operating in said countries.
What's happening, however, is that the UK government has called on payment portals like PayPal and Stripe, to restrict essay writing services from using their platform to do business with their clients. Stripe has already added essay writing services in their list of Restricted Businesses, as of October 26,2020. PayPal has also said "no" to essay agencies.
What's in the US?
Meanwhile, the US is lagging behind on the fight against contract cheating. Well, it's safe to say they're not even part of the battle at all. Or maybe they're not entirely aware there's a battle being fought?
The reason is honestly preposterous. It turns out that education leaders in the US simply refuse to acknowledge the problem of contract cheating, let alone do something to prevent it.
This lack of awareness can be humiliating on their part. Maybe because admitting the fact that students are cheating isn't just embarrassing, but could prompt them to plan out what should be done to curb it, when it's more cost-effective to just do... nothing.
The Future of Essay Writing Services
Given the current situation in Australia and the UK, the future couldn't be more bleak for essay writing services. The move to ban essay mills have started in large and powerful countries after all, so it'll come as no surprise that the US - and rest of the world - will follow suit.
So what's our forecast on this?
Unfortunately, we're seeing a complete, worldwide ban of commercial writing services in the next decade. With the continuous crackdown and heavier sanctions imposed against violators, it'll come as no surprise that these companies will soon run out of business.
It's a complicated situation but as it turns out, if you ban something and put penalties in place, students will be less likely to commit contract cheating.
David Anderson is the founder of IHateWritingEssays. He hates the idea of companies baiting unsuspecting individuals with fraudulent services. Starting from school, he too, struggled to find a helping hand when it comes to writing assignments. Over time, he focused on publishing comprehensive reviews and helping students find reliable essay services. Thus, the review site came to be – serving as the "voice and the iron fist" of an industry expert.