A disturbing article from several perspectives appeared last week in the Times. Titled “Cheating, Inc.: How Writing Papers for American College Students Has Become a Lucrative Profession Overseas,” it contained one ethically troubling paragraph and factoid after another, such as…
“Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing,” a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia. Ms. Mbugua felt conflicted.”
“This is cheating,” she said. “But do you have a choice? We have to make money. We have to make a living.”
“Cheating in college is nothing new, but the internet now makes it possible on a global, industrial scale. Sleek websites — with names like Ace-MyHomework and EssayShark — have sprung up that allow people in developing countries to bid on and complete American homework assignments.
“Although such businesses have existed for more than a decade, experts say demand has grown in recent years as the sites have become more sophisticated, with customer service hotlines and money-back guarantees. The result? Millions of essays ordered annually in a vast, worldwide industry that provides enough income for some writers to make it a full-time job.”
- “A Facebook group for academic writers in Kenya has over 50,000 members…
“…It is not clear how widely sites for paid-to-order essays, known as “contract cheating” in higher education circles, are used. A 2005 study of students in North America found that 7 percent of undergraduates admitted to turning in papers written by someone else, while 3 percent admitted to obtaining essays from essay mills. Cath Ellis, a leading researcher on the topic, said millions of essays are ordered online every year worldwide.”
Yes, I’d say that the statistics cited in the article make the 7% and 3% findings risible. What do you think are the real numbers? 15%? 20%? If that large a segment of graduating college students have cheated to get by, why is a diploma trusted as a credential? Would you want to be operated on by a doctor with a 20% chance that he or she cheated to graduate from medical school?
- “It’s a huge problem,” said Tricia Bertram Gallant, director of the academic integrity office at the University of California, San Diego. “If we don’t do anything about it, we will turn every accredited university into a diploma mill.”
What a hilarious state of denial. Every accredited university is already a diploma mill, and intended to be. The idea is to get jobs, not to be educated.
- “You can relax knowing that our reliable, expert writers will produce you a top quality and 100% plagiarism free essay that is written just for you, while you take care of the more interesting aspects of student life,” reads the pitch from Academized, which charges about $15 a page for a college freshman’s essay due in two weeks and $42 a page for an essay due in three hours….
“’No matter what kind of academic paper you need, it is simple and secure to hire an essay writer for a price you can afford,’ promises EssayShark.com. ‘Save more time for yourself.'”
“In an email, EssayShark’s public relations department said the company did not consider its services to be cheating, and that it warned students the essays are for “research and reference purposes only” and are not to be passed off as a student’s own work.
“We do not condone, encourage or knowingly take part in plagiarism or any other acts of academic fraud,” it said.
Talk about a Jumbo, denying outright what is undeniable and obvious! What utter, brazen gall.
“A major scandal involving contract cheating in Australia caused university officials there to try to crack down on the practice. A similar effort to confront the industry has emerged in Britain, but not in the United States.
Contract cheating is illegal in 17 states, but punishment tends to be light and enforcement rare. Experts said that no federal law in the United States, or in Kenya, forbids the purchase or sale of academic papers…
Of course not! Policy-makers literally do not care if degrees have any integrity, as long as they provide an avenue, however false, to employment.
- “In interviews with people in Kenya who said they had worked in contract cheating, many said they did not view the practice as unethical.”
This is because in Kenya, like Africa generally, society has accepted and rationalized corruption to such an extent that even rudimentary ethics alarms barely exist.
1) Are our cheating students corrupting the paper-writers, or are they corrupting our students?
2) Does anybody care?