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Universities Urged to Tackle Plagiarism

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Universities have been urged to do more to crack down on students buying essays online and submitting them as their own.

An investigation into the practice by the Quality Assurance Agency found hundreds of companies were producing work for students to pass off as their own.

Now, the university standards watchdog has issued new government-backed guidance in order to address the issue, which can lead to students paying hundreds of pounds for made to order essays.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has put forward a series of recommendations. These include providing more support for struggling students, introducing a range of assessment methods to limit cheating opportunities, blocking essay-mill websites, and adopting smarter software that can tell if there is a difference in style and level of ability between a student's essays.

The proposals have been announced after universities minister Jo Johnson called for advice, to help address the issue.

Commenting on the recommendations, Mr Johnson, said: "This form of cheating is unacceptable and pernicious. It not only undermines standards in our world-class universities, but devalues the hard-earned qualifications of those who don't cheat."

Meanwhile, chief executive of the QAA, Douglas Blackstock, said: "Paying someone else to write essays is wrong and could damage their career. Education providers should take appropriate action to tackle and prevent this kind of abuse."

In Britain, individual institutions can develop their own policies regarding plagiarism. However, the QAA now wants a consistent approach to help tackle the problem and has called on universities and colleges to maintain records on cheating to better understand the scale of the problem.