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Essay writing services to be banned in bid to stop cheating at college and university
6 October 2021, 16:22 | Updated: 6 October 2021, 16:27
Essay cheating companies will be made illegal in England under new legislation to reform post-16 education.
The government intends to make it a criminal offence to provide, arrange or advertise essay-writing services for financial gain to university and college students.
Making essay mills illegal will help protect students from falling prey to the "deceptive marketing techniques of contract cheating services", the Department for Education said.
It is one of a number of measures being introduced to the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which aims to transform further and technical education.
Skills minister Alex Burghart said: "Essay mills are completely unethical and profit by undermining the hard work most students do.
"We are taking steps to ban these cheating services.
"We have also announced a new measure to make sure all young people receive broader careers guidance so everyone can get the advice that's right for them."
Essay mills, which are already illegal in some countries, make money by encouraging students to cheat in assessments.
Their services include providing students with ready-made essays to pass off as their own.
The government hopes banning the services will help to safeguard the academic integrity and standards of post-16 and higher education in England.
A Universities UK spokeswoman "welcomed" the announcement, though she added the use of essay mills by students is "rare".
A spokesperson for the National Union of Students said they are glad the government is "finally listening".
"These private companies prey on students' vulnerabilities and insecurities to make money through exploitation, and never more so than during the pandemic.
"In the meantime, we would urge universities to put in place academic and pastoral support so that students are never in the position of feeling they have to turn to essay mills in the first place."