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? Continue reading