The government is seeking to ban essay mills amid growing concern that unscrupulous firms are using online influencers on campus to exploit and blackmail students into using their services.
To this end, this week it introduced the Essay Mills (Prohibition) Bill to make such services illegal. The former universities minister, Chris Skidmore, told the House of Commons that there are now over 1,000 companies offering students ‘ready-made’ essays. That is an increase of 50% in three years. It is already a crime to operate such companies in Ireland and Australia, and Skidmore wants the UK to follow suit.
He said: “Each week that passes during the pandemic, the situation is only growing worse. As students have been forced to study remotely from home, away from on-campus welfare and support, taking their studies and exams online, they are increasingly becoming prey to essay mills, whose number has increased dramatically as they seek to take advantage of the desperate situation many students face.”
Skidmore also highlighted how students were being recruited as influencers for essay-writing companies. Some were being paid to distribute flyers on campus advertising such services. Students who have used these services have also been blackmailed to continue using the service.
“If the UK can demonstrate its willing to bring in legislation to end essay mills, we could make this part of a wider international campaign to close this loophole. Most people would assume this kind of service should be illegal in that it actively damages a student’s ability to learn independently and successfully,” Skidmore said.