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What are essay mills? Government set to make academic writing services illegal under new plans


The Government has outlined plans to make it a crime for essay mill services to target students.

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It will mean providing, arranging or advertising such an offering for an economic benefit will be illegal at any post-16 educational institution and for any qualification.

The measures will be put in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill and have been considered as part of plans to revolutionise and change training and skills.

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But you might still not know exactly what essay mills are. Here, we’ll tell you what essay mills are and what the Government has said about making these services illegal.

What are essay mills?

Essay mills are services that provide students with academic material in exchange for money. These can include essays, laboratory reports, PowerPoint presentations, film editing and computer programming.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the independent body for UK universities, says more than 1,000 essay mills are operating.

“Essay mills are almost exclusively online entities operating across the globe,” it wrote in a report on the matter .

“They can range from UK-based organisations registered at Companies House with offices and permanent staff, to one-person operations with minimal infrastructure beyond a computer operating off-shore.”

They have already been made illegal in some countries, and there are now plans for the Government here to do the same.

But a spokesperson from Universities UK told the BBC the use of these essay mill services in this country was uncommon. It added that each institution has its own rules and there are serious sanctions in place for students who submit work that is not their own.

What has the Government said about essay mills?

In its press release, a Government spokesperson said: “Banning essay mills will help to safeguard the academic integrity and standards of post-16 and higher education in England and protect students from falling prey to the deceptive marketing techniques of contract cheating services.

“This follows a number of steps already taken to tackle unscrupulous essay mills, including government working alongside the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Universities UK and the National Union of Students to produce guidance for institutions on how to combat the threat of contract cheating and guidance for students to make them better aware of the consequences, sending a clear message that these services are not legitimate.”

Minister for Skills, Alex Burghart, added: “Essay mills are completely unethical and profit by undermining the hard work most students do. We are taking steps to ban these cheating services.”

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