What exactly is to be banned, writing essays for money? Credit - public domain

Various of the universities are insisting that essay mills should be banned. These are the companies which take money to produce essays to specification. 750 words on why Milton’s just a great guy by 4 pm please, here’s $100 in exchange. Quite obviously these are then used by students as their coursework and they then get their degrees by buying them. This perhaps isn’t how we’d like to have our bridges designed, by people who just bought the piece of paper allowing them to design bridges.

Having actually done this work – I did one piece once for one of the companies, purely in the interests of research, ahem – it’s very difficult indeed to see how any legal ban upon them can be crafted. For what do you make illegal? Writing essays for money? That’s a goodly chunk of the freelance writing market gone. How do you think newspapers an dmagazines get content? By offering people to write essays for money, obviously enough.

More than 40 university chiefs are reported to have written to the education secretary calling for a ban on so-called “essay mills”.

The vice-chancellors have called for companies who offer essay-writing services to be made illegal amid fears they are undermining the integrity of degree courses.

Yes, but, what is it that is to be banned, exactly?

However, in the UK it is not illegal to offer a commercial essay-writing service.

Well, yes, but again, exactly what is it that you’re going to make illegal? Writing stuff for money?

In March, the Advertising Standards Agency banned adverts for an essay writing company by failing to make it clear that the papers were not meant to be submitted by students as their own work.

So, think through what you can make illegal. You can certainly prosecute students for submitting work that is not their own. As universities do in a civil manner by chucking out those who do so particularly egregiously. You can make illegal advertising that I’ll write you an essay which you can submit as part of your course work, that’s not difficult. Advertising that you’ll aid in committing that civil violation, that’s easy enough to make verboten. But, well, what else?

We can’t make writing to order illegal for that’s that usual practice in the newspaper industry. I’d like 750 words by 4 pm on Jezza Corbyn’s latest nonsense is something near every editor has been known to say. Along with the promise of money upon publication too. They might not have been about Jezza but I did two such pieces today.

We can’t make illegal guidelines for essays – that’s private tutoring out of the window. We can’t make illegal the writing of essays upon Jane Austen’s novels, that’s censorship. There’s no single determining factor which covers the activity which we can thus make illegal. Only the use to which the essays are put and that’s down to the student who ordered, not the people who wrote the piece.

Sure, call for essay mills to be banned. But what exactly is it that you’re making illegal? That doesn’t trample upon other perfectly legal – and to the extent that any freelance writing is, desirable – activities?

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Spike
Member

Isn’t the premise of gun control to ban a tool, which many find useful, on the basis of potential misconduct? Can’t we have a Republican approach to this, not a ban but simply full disclosure? Let’s find out which graduates cheated their way through university.

Would you support a law that declared cheating before mid-terms in Bridge Engineering to be commercial fraud? (Surely we don’t care how Women’s Grievance Studies graduates got through the course “work.”) Oh no, that would cost you the student vote!

Hallowed Be
Member
Hallowed Be

How else are lecturers to support their lowly incomes?

john77
Member
john77

What you can make illegal is fraudulent misrepresentation of items submitted as part of an academic course as being produced by a student who has not produced them and introduce fines of 100% of annual revenue for any firm that conspires with the student or is an accomplice.
This will not prevent Mum helping daughter with her homework/coursework but will, I hope, deter the crooks making a business out of cheating

Spike
Member

This always bugs me! So the crime is not what you did, but that you made a “business out of” it — that you were willful. Well, I am willful, and I do not want to be imprisoned for it.

john77
Member
john77

Tough! Don’t cheat and you will not be imprisoned for it – nor even be fined, which was my suggestion.

Moosealot
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Moosealot

So the daughters of the nomenklatura whose mothers are suitably skilled to do their coursework for them should receive an advantage over those not so privileged? I can hear the howls of indignation from the Lefties (who have additional spare time to howl ‘cos Mummy is doing their university coursework) already.

john77
Member
john77

This is about stopping university undergraduates cheating, Mum won’t be able to help when kid is scores or even hundreds of miles away. We currently have a highly visible bias in school results due to the daughters of the nomenklatura getting help with the homework and coursework so the only subject where boys do better is maths where coursework is done in class. There are no howls from the lefties because they are signed up to the version of feminism where any difference in favour of females is fine but anything which appears to favour males is condemned as oppression… Read more »

Hallowed Be
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Hallowed Be

I suppose what you do is insist that each of your students joins up to the essay writing service as authors for hire and mark them on their earnings.

jgh
Member
jgh

Following the American gun control line, this is the same line of thought that demands to criminalise gun manufacturer instead of criminalising socially unacceptable actions that use guns.

So, yes, my thrust would be: aggressively prosecute those students who fraudently misrepresent the work they submit as being theirs.