Fee-dom Writers

Anna Wilson investigates the Essay writing companies that target students

Essay-writing and coursework make up a huge part of most students’ university experience. They are time-consuming and stressful, so it is no surprise that an increasing number of people are turning to companies which specialise in them to relieve some of their burden. Writing companies such as WritePass and UK Essays are organisations which offer students various services ranging from personalised theses to cover letters in exchange for a fee. Although such facilities appear to be geared towards a more humanities-orientated audience, the companies also cater for disciplines such as engineering, mathematics and environmental sciences, and at a number of different levels: undergraduate, post graduate masters and PhD.

A number of Warwick students have described being approached by representatives of one such
company – WritePass – on campus and given flyers or business cards promoting their services. This UKbased company offers an array of writing services, advertising that all orders placed will be written by employees with Masters or PhD degrees. On the company website, it is claimed that good quality writing is guaranteed, which will supposedly “dramatically improve your chances of getting a good paying graduate job”. It also stresses a guarantee that pieces will be plagiarism-free. But are they really?

As is with the case with many of the University’s subject areas, the History Department, for example,
explicitly ban the outsourcing of students’ assignments. The handbook issued to every pupil at the start of their degree declares. Commissioning or purchasing research for your essays constitutes plagiarism”, meaning that using the services of writing companies are in breach of the University’s rules, even if they are checked and double- checked by the company. But how would they ever find out?

Most companies are keen to stress that their work is tested against anti-plagiarism software. However, Warwick University, along with many others, has invested in anti-plagiarism programmes of their own. In 2012, The Independent reported that 16,000 pupils in the UK alone had been found guilty of plagiarism, including for using the services of writing companies. According to the University’s regulations, candidates caught cheating in assessed work may be subject to investigation by a committee, or the head of department will write a report to the academic registrar. According to The Telegraph, cases of cheating at Warwick rose from two in 2005/06 to 22 in 2009/10.

Assuming you don’t get caught, how can you justify it? Some people have attributed the recent rise in plagiarism cases to the rise in tuition fees. How? Many students now feel that there is much more pressure on them to get a good degree and then a well paying job in order to pay off student loans. It is for this reason that some claim that students turn to essay companies in order to guarantee them good grades. It can also be put down to stress. A first year student, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that “the new workload is pretty intense. I can see the appeal of paying someone to take some of it off your hands”. Academic pressure is increasingly being used as a justification for the usage of such companies.

In addition to the load presented by university work, others have pointed out that paying for assignments to be done for you allows more time for students to concentrate on other issues in their life. This can range from a family member’s illness to extra-curricular activities. When questioned, however, most students expressed sympathy but maintained that this was not a valid excuse.

According to the founder of WritePass, known as “Ty”, the company is designed to give students “ a fighting chance in an increasingly over-rated educational system”. Several examples are cited, including an instance where a student had been trying to pass a one year long degree for three years, and the tuition fees were spiraling out of control. Ty claimed that he “had to help”. A section of the website is dedicated to retelling the story of how the company began, starting with how the entrepreneur helped to write a dissertation for a fellow student when the former became involved in an unplanned pregnancy.

Since 2008, the company “designed to ensure you always pass” has been utilising the “best writers from the top universities” to provide essay-writing services to “up to 7,000 students”. The fees charges for the services
provided by companies such as WritePass vary dramatically depending on what the company is
commissioned to do. An undergraduate’s 2,500 word law essay, forexample, would set a student back
£327.25, while a 5,000 word mathematics dissertation would weigh in at around £545.

The general opinion at Warwick appears to be that it is wrong of essay writing companies to exist, let alone distribute advertisements to students. Although the precautions taken by the businesses minimize
the risk of detection, the danger of being discovered is still present and has serious consequences. Peoplethus deemed the risk not to be worthwhile. Students also highlighted the moral implications of presenting other people’s work as your own – not just on others, but on yourself, too. Concern was also expressed about the overall impact that essay writing companies would have on the credibility of the university education system. As the trend of increased usage of such services continues, universities nationwide will continue to be vigilant.

Students concerned with issues regarding plagiarism are advised to speak to their personal tutor or a member of academic staff from the department in question. Students who believe that they have been falsely accused of such misconduct can seek help from the Student Advice Centre in the Student’s Union, which can offer guidance and could represent you in the event of a hearing. Full details of Regulation 11 (“Procedure to be adopted in the Event of Suspected Cheating in a University Test”) the University’s policy can be found on the website, as can other information on how to avoid plagiarism. Information on how to correctly lay out academic assignments can be found in the handbooks created by each department, also available online.

Comments (2)

  • Obsidian Thunderstorm PHD

    FIRSTLY that is not how you spell ‘FREEDOM’ and if you think that’s a pun, you’d be mistaken (my grandfather wrote puns for the Times!!!). Take Care, Obsidian Thunderstorm P.H.D (Also great stuff, look forward to more!!!)

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