According to the Guardian Newspaper, cheating at British Universities has risen by 40% in the last three years and professional essay writing services (or ‘essay mills’) are behind the rise.

Why do an ever-increasing number of students feel the need to cheat their way through a degree? Is it because they’re simply lazy and irresponsible; are they struggling to cope with the pressure to succeed; were they ready to take on the degree in the first place?

The job market of today is obsessed with graduates; degree level education is often now the lowest qualification that will be accepted for those seeking a career. So, with more students attending universities and studying an ever more diverse range of courses, it would be unsurprising to see more and more people out of their depth – and that’s where essay mills come in. Apart from that, if an employer simply needs to see you have a degree and doesn’t need to see that you actually understand your degree (as proven by the fact that many graduate jobs don’t require specific subjects) than paying someone to get you through might seem like a time-efficient way to go about the whole thing.

Universities do what they can to try and counter essay fraud by using plagiarism software like ‘turnitin’ and by assigning personal tutors who, in time, will come to recognise your own essay styles and limitations. This doesn’t always work though. On some courses, it’s easier to blend in than others. Your university will know if your essay is plagiarised, but that’s not the same as having someone else write your essay for you.

Websites like ‘EduBird’ brandish ‘100% plagiarism free’ promises to get around university guidelines. They protect themselves with disclaimers claiming that their submissions are merely ‘advisory’ which we can all see bends the truth. I recently gave ‘EduBird’ a try – not by asking them to write my essay; simply making inquiries for the benefit of this article.

Having requested a Geography essay of 1000 words written to ‘standard’ quality (as opposed to premium) I entertained quotes of between £65 and £108. They even offered to write a 10,000-word dissertation for up to £900. But, who would be willing to pay this? It’s clear to me that they target those who are either completely desperate or those who have far, far more money than sense. Most students couldn’t afford those sorts of prices and, judging by the amateurish and over-the-top presentation of their website, I reckon most students are intelligent enough to see past their ploy.

But then there’s the question of who the essay writers actually are. EduBird is populated by people claiming to have been awarded PhDs, which begs the question – what went wrong in their academic career? And why are they openly offering to help students cheat their way to the top? How could they be so academically corrupt? Perhaps then, these people are imposters. Well, judging by the type of essays they have produced (e.g ‘Exposure to violence in the media can cause some people to commit violent crime. Critically evaluate this statement.’) I would say they have some academic merit.

I am going to keep the conclusion short; for your own sake do not be tempted to cheat your way through university. If you’re lucky enough not to be expelled, I doubt your self-respect will ever recover.

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