Students who submit assignments bought from essay writing services risk being kicked off their course, the University has warned, after at least one company admitted it was selling work to KU students.
On its website, the Kingston-based company claim to use a team of former university lecturers and researchers to write A-grade student essays and dissertations on demand, worth up to £300.
A University spokeswoman sent out a clear warning to students that a zero tolerance policy exists towards commissioning and submitting plagiarised essays, and any student found cheating could face being thrown out.
“The University takes cheating and plagiarism very seriously and will always take appropriate action, should a student be found to have cheated whether through plagiarism or by allowing other people to complete assignments,” she said.
“Immediate action is taken if such activity is suspected.”
Under academic misconduct regulations, the University recognises the act of purchasing or commissioning someone else to complete an assessment as an act of academic misconduct that could result in the student’s registration being terminated.
But Paul McCarthy, director of an essay writing company, said he was unrepentant in helping students cheat as they were being overworked by universities.
“It’s absolutely not illegal at all, it’s a moral argument which I am totally at ease with because I am here to legitimately help people,” he said.
“I have clients that have mental health issues or personal problems, who are in their last year and unable to cope with the unbearable amount of work and stress the university has placed on them.
“Are we just meant to chuck them under a bus and let them waste years of their life for something that they can’t help?”
McCarthy also clarified that unlike other online essay services which claim to only be a study tool, he fully expected students to submit the work he provided them as their own.
“There is no ambiguity here, we write the essays and dissertations for students to submit,” McCarthy said.
“Companies who say they expect students to only use it as guides are just trying to make themselves feel better; they know very well what’s going on.
“There is a huge demand for my services and if I don’t do it, these desperate students will turn to dodgy sub-continent companies who will give them back poor work.”
Since the start of term, McCarthy’s children have been seen outside KU campuses handing out business cards promoting and price listing the plagiarism service.
Second year history student Alsa Padayachee said she was shocked when handed a business card by the children outside the university campus.
“This school kid was just standing there handing out cards and I was completely flabbergasted when I looked down to see the card was basically promoting cheating,” she said.
“I can’t believe this type of stuff is actually legal, it really shouldn’t be.”
The use of online essay services has been in the spotlight after a study commissioned by the Office of Qualifications and Examination Regulation (Ofqual) last month found online companies selling bespoke A-grade essays were being graded a lower C or D grade when independently assessed.
The research conducted by London School of Economics concluded that: “Overall the commissioned essays were considered to be of poor quality and fell well short of what might be expected from a representative student at this stage of their academic career.”
The Kingston University spokesperson added there were a number of measures in place to reduce the opportunity to cheat, and recommended students avoid the services.
“Clearly the University would advise students not to use these services,” she said.
“Apart from the fact there is a strong likelihood that they will be caught if they do purchase an assignment or essay which could result in a severe penalty, buying an essay is cheating themselves out of learning.”