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Plagiarising Students Could Face a Criminal Record under Proposed Plans

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Under plans being proposed by the government, those university students who purchase essays online could face fines and a criminal record.

To combat the growing essay writing industry, the government is looking to introduce tough new rules amid concerns the quality of a British university degree is under threat.

Recent reports suggest as many as 20,000 students enrolled at British universities are paying thousands of pounds for bespoke essays in order to obtain degrees.

The Department of Education has announced it is in consultation with universities over how to crackdown on cheating students.

The DfE is currently consulting on a variety of proposals with higher education bodies, ranging from fines, academic blacklists and even criminal records for students found submitting professionally written essays.

Commenting on the matter, a spokeswoman for DfE said a change in the law was something that could be considered in the future.

The new guidance is due to be implemented in September so it coincides with the start of the next academic year.

Commenting on the announcement, Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: "This form of cheating is unacceptable and every university should have strong policies and sanctions in place to detect and deal with it.

"Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high-quality reputation of a UK degree so it is vital that the sector work together to address this in a consistent and robust way."

Although universities use anti-plagiarism software to detect when academic texts have been copied, students submitting bespoke essays as their own can circumvent the software in place, meaning examiners are powerless to prevent foul play.