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Deakin University gets tough over contract cheating

Contract cheating
More and more students are deciding to turn to contract cheating. Source: Shutterstock.com

Cheating happens in every institution across the globe every day. And, with essay mills on the rise, Deakin University in Australia is cracking down on students who cheat.

‘Contract cheating’ refers to the exchanging of money for academic material to be written, or an exam to be taken on behalf of a student. This can involve the use of essay mills or paying someone to sit an exam in place of the student.

Such cheating is prevalent in universities and is now even easier for those with fat wallets.

Professor Liz Johnson, acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, said 28 students were excluded for cheating last year. This is an increase from 21 the previous year. The university did not confirm how many of the excluded pupils were international students.

It is unclear whether the desperation to pass a module was fuelled by a language barrier, laziness or fear. In many cases, it is safe to assume a mixture of all three.

“This reflects our continuing vigilance and vigorous systems to detect and investigate academic misconduct,” said Johnson, speaking to The Herald Sun.

The exclusion terms range in severity. The student could be banned from their course or the university for three or fewer “study periods” or it could mean a permanent exclusion.

“I was excluded from my course, then my student visa was cancelled as a result of the exclusion. I had to leave Australia and return home, I don’t think I will ever get to graduate. I have disappointed my family” – an international student on the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) website.

“I was found out to be contract cheating; as a result I was excluded from Deakin. I felt so guilty, embarrassed and unethical. None of my friends have ever cheated. I really don’t want to be known as a cheater,” said another student.

The DUSA has an entire page on its website addressing contract cheating and it even runs a “contract cheating awareness week”. They are dedicated to putting a stop to the unethical behaviour.

Phillip Dawson, Deakin Associate Professor, told The Herald Sun that contract cheating was a US$260 million global industry. It makes students believe it is foolproof and carries no risks.

“I lost my dream graduate job. The company that was hiring reviewed my university results and saw I had failed a subject, they asked me why and I told them I contract cheated. They immediately revoked the job offer,” claimed one student.

“I contract cheated and was permanently excluded from my course. I have no other back-up plan. My partner was so angry when they found out, that they broke up with me. I’m alone, ashamed and with no other options,” said one distraught student on the DUSA website.

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