Honor-pledge plan for British students to tackle university cheating
LONDON, March 20 (Xinhua) -- British Education Secretary Damian Hinds on Wednesday has called on universities to consider "honor codes" in a campaign against cheating.
The move, which would see students sign a pledge not to use essay writing services for their own assignment, aims to crack down on cheating students.
Those suspected of cheating would face severe consequences, he warned.
Hinds had also called on on-line giants such as PayPal to stop promoting and facilitating access to essay writing services, as the government signalled its intention to 'beat the cheats' at university.
In the first of a series of interventions across the higher education sector, Hinds has challenged PayPal to stop processing payments for 'essay mills' as part of an accelerated drive to preserve and champion the quality of Britain's higher education system.
Hinds said: "Sadly there have always been some people who opt for the easy way and the internet has seen a black market in essay writing services spring up. The fact that this is cheating, and students must understand it is unacceptable."
"It is unethical for companies to profit from this dishonest business which is exploiting young people and it is time to stamp them out of our world-class higher education sector," he added.
In 2016 the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) found there are approximately 17,000 instances of academic offences a year in Britain, however the number of students using essay writing services is thought to be much higher as plagiarised essays often go undetected.
A study by Swansea University of students internationally, found one-in-seven students outside Britain admitted to paying for assignments.
Hinds added: "When I was at university I was struck by American friends who talked about the honor code system. They wouldn't consider even low-level plagiarism because it broke this code - an agreement as they saw it between themselves and the university, and their peers."
Douglas Blackstock, CEO of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) said: "Companies that try to entice students to buy so-called plagiarism free essays pose a real threat to the academic integrity of our higher education. These unscrupulous operators, increasingly and falsely marketing themselves as providing legitimate study aids, must be stopped in their tracks.
"We have recently heard stories of essay companies attempting to blackmail students by threatening to expose them unless they hand over greater sums of money."
Blackstock said hundreds of essay companies across the world use online platforms to promote or transact their services to students.