A recent study on contract cheating in Australia concluded that the over-representation of non-native English speaking students in cheating surveys is linked to the failure of universities to provide support for language and learning development.Students are tasked with completing assessments for which they lack the basic English language skills.
Since 2014, as many as 15.7 percent of surveyed students admitted to outsourcing their assignments and essays.
The growth in contract cheating speaks volumes about the modern view of education as a commodity A recent survey, led by the University of South Australia, found international students demonstrated proportionately higher cheating behaviours.
But a more considered response must take into account the complex reasons students turn to these services in the first place.
Understanding why students are willing to pay for assessments might also illuminate a problem at the heart of tertiary education – one that is related to our present repackaging of knowledge as a resource to be bought, rather than an ennobling pursuit that is worthy of all the energy, time, and attention teachers and students can devote to it.
Rather than buying top grades, desperate students are being exploited by companies that take advantage of the very shortcomings (lower literacy and an ignorance of plagiarism protocols) students are hoping to mitigate.
One less obvious aspect of contract cheating that can’t be fixed by intelligent software is the predatory nature of essay mill companies.But despite these technological advancements, students who are turning to such services have reasons far more complicated than laziness or disregard for personal responsibility.Despite the moral panic over grades for cash, there’s some evidence to suggest students turning to essay mill services are not getting what they pay for.A 2014 mystery shopping exercise in the UK revealed the astonishingly low standard of commissioned work produced by essay mills.Of all the essays purchased, none received the requested grade, and many fell dramatically short of expected academic standards.A 2015 study of US student demand for commercially produced assignments found students with English as their first language who liked taking risks were about as likely to buy an assessment as students who were reluctant risk-takers, but who spoke English as a second language.It’s no surprise that students whom we aggressively court for their higher fees and who are working in a less familiar language environment are turning to these services at higher rates.So did students who spoke a language other than English at home.In 2013, a large online survey on academic honesty at six Australian universities found international students were significantly less aware of academic integrity processes, and much less confident about how to avoid academic integrity breaches.According to a 2018 study, as many as 31 million university students worldwide are paying third parties to complete their assessments.This staggering figure was drawn by reviewing 65 studies on contract cheating.