WA universities have been ensnared by claims that their students are paying an academic ghostwriting service to complete their assignments.
A whistleblower claiming to be a Kenyan national who has worked for China-based cheat site Assignment Joy as a ghostwriter for the past decade has provided a cache of documents to The West Australian of examples of assignments he had written claiming to be for universities across Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Many of the assignments provided were for courses in marketing, early childhood education, or elder care, but did not mention the students’ institutions.
The ghostwriter claimed to have done assignments for students at several Western Australian universities, but only provided evidence of one – a group project at a marketing unit at Curtin University .
A spokeswoman said Curtin was “deeply committed” to academic integrity and offered students support to help them complete assignments and exams on their own merits.
“Curtin was already aware of this assignment writing service,” she said. “Issues like these are being dealt with under the proper misconduct procedures.”
The Kenyan said he was not worried about getting caught by Australian regulators and wished they would do a better job of controlling university cheating.
“This case will not end and the education system is a sham,” he said.
Asked about his motivation for coming forward now, the man said it was because of his concerns for the education system and the huge increase he had seen in the number of students cheating.
“For me, cheating to get a qualification is fine,” he said. “But when I see medical and nursing students and serious professions doing this, it becomes a major problem for future professionals.”
The Kenyan lifted the lid on how the system works, with students ordering homework after creating an account in Chinese instant messaging app WeChat.
“Once you have an account in the WeChat app and you are accepted by Assignment Joy WeChat ID or account, work is sent to you on various topics for you to check and decide which ones are favorable and able to handle,” said he declared. “It’s confirmed and the invoice is sent and you’re working on it. Then you get paid every two months.
The ghostwriter claimed that around 60% of students who use Assignment Joy are from China.
He said students pay about $100 for 1,000 words, and he gets $60.
“But you know Assignment Joy gets up to 50 orders a day, so imagine how much he earns,” the Kenyan said.
“Orders vary from 1,000 words to 10,000 words depending on the requirements of the tutors. Per week, ghostwriting earns me up to (1,500 AUD) 1,000 USD. »
A translation of the Assignment Joy site shows that it targets Australian universities by offering an “Australian Essay Writing Guarantee”.
“Often a good article is the key to your success, so choice is more important than hard work,” it reads.
Australia’s university regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Association, recently cracked down on commercial academic cheating sites using Australia’s new anti-cheat laws.
Last month, TEQSA blocked 40 of the most visited cheating sites most likely to face penalties this year.
Its database of 2,333 alleged cheat sites includes around 580 known to target Australian university students.
“TEQSA is investigating all reports of alleged commercial academic cheating services targeting students at Australian higher education institutions,” a spokesperson said.
“This includes services advertising or offering illegal cheat services in languages other than English or foreign-based services.”
Advertising cheating services to college students is illegal, with penalties of up to two years in prison or a $110,000 fine.
Students who pay to cheat are subject to their institution’s disciplinary policies.