Offering essay-writing services to students for a fee will become a criminal offence under plans to tackle cheating by “essay mills”.
The government says the move will protect students from the “deceptive marketing techniques of contract cheating services”.
Providing pre-written or custom-made essays for students to present as their own is already illegal in some places.
Skills Minister Alex Burghart said essay mills are “completely unethical”.
There are more than 1,000 essay mills in operation, according to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the watchdog for standards in UK universities.
The agency’s Gareth Crossman said the decision “sends a clear signal” but the higher education sector must work together to put these “unscrupulous outfits” out of business.
A 2018 survey suggested that 15.7% of recent graduates admitted to cheating, but Universities UK said that the use of essay mills by students was rare.
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