Combatting the threat of contract cheating

With the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, Caroline Campbell and Lorna Waddington, Project Leads for the  Academic Integrity Strategies LITE Fellowship, review progress made over the last 12 months in combatting the threat of contract cheating, and offer guidance on how we can better inform our students of the importance of integrity, whether academic, personal and/professional.

Wednesday 20 October 2021, International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, reminds us of the growing threat of contract cheating and the need to make students aware of the issue and warn them of the serious consequences for those who decide to get involved.

What has happened in the last 12 months?

  • We were part of a consultation group that was instrumental in advising the government on the threat of contract cheating. On 6 October 2021, the UK government confirmed its intention to make essay-writing services illegal as part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill. While not a panacea in itself, it is a significant development
  • The UKHE sector has been working together, providing a united front, through a series of meetings to share ideas and discuss strategies, building on the work of regional networks
  • Lorna set up and is leading a UKHE working group on recruiting Student Ambassadors to lead on comms, training and support, with a view to developing a UKHE network
  • As part of this commitment, PRIA (Pedagogic Research In the Arts) has funded student ambassadors in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures. Our PGT ambassador, Junyao Wei, commented: “I believe maintaining academic integrity will reinforce our commitment to building a fair academic community for our students.”
  • We represent the University of Leeds on a UKHE working group on contract cheating which is exploring initiatives
  • Colleagues in the UK are working with partners in Europe via the European Network for Academic Integrity, in the USA via the International Center for Academic Integrity, and colleagues in Ireland and Australia to share intelligence

What can students do?

They can …

  • forward emails from a person/company offering to “help” with producing work on their behalf, to our integrity threats mailbox integritythreats@leeds.ac.uk
  • talk to their Module Tutor – for specific questions about the assessment
  • talk to their Academic Personal Tutor – for advice on various aspects of preparing assessments
  • request an extension if they are struggling to meet the deadline
  • submit a mitigating circumstances application if there are circumstances which are affecting their ability to study
  • seek advice and support from trained advisors in LUU    (LUU academic advisors)
  • attend a skills@library workshop  (click here to see the workshops available) 
  • browse some of the resources available – Developing Academic Skills

As a sector, we need to work with our students and ensure that we provide information and support so that we maintain the reputation of our award. And by sector, we mean HE across the globe, working to develop global strategies for what is a global problem.