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Sometimes known as ghostwriting, contract cheating is the practice of engaging someone else to complete your work for you, and this issue is on the rise. Some students simply don’t understand the dangers associated with this form of malpractice, so who better to shout about the problem than those most impacted by it?
To highlight the risks of contract cheating to students, Turnitin launched a brand new competition - Students Against Contract Cheating - which encouraged students across the UK and Ireland to express their creativity. We asked students to tell their story, make a statement, and to explore new and creative ways to make other students aware of contract cheating, why it's not acceptable, and stress the risks involved in using contract cheating services.
Judged by a task force committed to tackling the problem, including Karl Leydecker (University of Dundee), Irene Glendinning (University of Coventry), Brian Irwin (Sheffield Hallam University) and Yasmin Pitter (Pearson), we are pleased to announce our two winners and how they were inspired to take a stand against contract cheating:
Population and Geography student at the University of Southampton
Rachel informed us that while she hasn't engaged in contract cheating, it is readily available to her: “In my university halls' WhatsApp group, last year, the group would frequently receive messages offering to write student essays in exchange for money ... however, I don’t think students are aware of the potential consequences.”
Her knowledge about the problem prompted Rachel to use a comic book strip format to cleverly illustrate the different ways in which a student can be caught should they choose to cheat.
We asked Rachel what advice she’d give to students tempted to take the route of contract cheating: “It's not worth the risk. One bad grade is better than having to redo the year or even being extorted financially! We put in so much effort to gain a university place that we should appreciate our time as students before moving into the ‘real world’.”
As a student of Population and Geography, Rachel has firsthand experience of the pressures of looming assignment deadlines and believes that this could contribute to the rise the rising issue of contract cheating: “I recently had four major deadlines within four days, and I was really stressed out about.”
Rachel implores universities to offer more one-on-one support to students experiencing difficulty with an assignment or exam.
Law student at University College Dublin
Alice produced a piece that features the use of a popular instant messaging platform and highlights the extreme consequences of contract cheating.
She told us, “At first, I didn't understand the dangers of using essay mills, but soon found that students were paying vast sums in exchange for poor quality work or no work at all, leaving themselves open to the risk of blackmail or exposure.”
Alice believes that finding the confidence to approach a programme or academic advisor before seeking help from illegitimate means is fundamental in effectively combatting the issue of contract cheating: “It’s a bad short term solution with long term consequences.”
Contract cheating is undoubtedly happening and becoming a major issue in education. We’d like to thank our competition winners and all who entered, for joining us in taking a stand against the problem.
Interested in seeing Rachel and Alice's winning artwork? Download Everything You Need to Know About Contract Cheating: A Free Guide from Turnitin to see the winning artwork as official Turnitin posters. Share the guide with your institution to raise even more awareness about contract cheating.
Want to address contract cheating at your institution? Learn more about Turnitin Originality.