The US has a thriving, if dubious, export business in “contract cheating.” This is the writing of student papers and course work for money. The UK is a major market for the US. However, this lucrative export trade is under threat from globalization.
UK colleges go to great lengths to detect and punish cheating, employing software to spot outright copying. However, as contract cheats often produce original work, such abuse difficult to detect.
Dr Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke at the UKs Birmingham City University have been following the phenomenon since 2004. They told the Deccan Herald that over a 20-month period between 2004 and 2006, they recorded some 1,000 students cheating worldwide. The majority on IT-related courses, a third in the UK.
Students post requirements on legitimate marketplace websites used by freelance programmers and authors. Increasingly, sites set up specifically for contract cheating are used.
UK students tend to outsource to the lowest bidder. With prices ranging from £5 (US$10) for coursework, to £100 ($200) for a postgraduate dissertation, cheats in India and Romania are undercutting their US competitors. US authors, often hard-up students, are facing weeks without beer.
The globalization of contract cheating has lead to downward pressure on prices. As price falls, so demand increases. Lancaster and Clarke note the practice is spreading in the UK. Lancaster told Silicon.com, “The problem is definitely getting worse, it is hard to detect, the number of these sites is spreading all the time and it is impossible for us to monitor all of them.”
Should the US put protection of contract cheats on the next round of trade talks?
Image credit: krzakptak