In February this year, Turnitin announced plans to crack down on contract cheating.
Its proposed solution, authorship investigation, hopes to automate a process familiar to any human marker: detecting major shifts in individual students’ writing style that may point to help from a third party.
Redesigning assessments is the primary way to tackle the growing problem of contract cheating.
Recent suggestions focus on the development of authentic assessments: tasks that more closely mirror the real-world demands students will face after they graduate from university.
So did students who spoke a language other than English at home.
In 2013, a large online survey on academic honesty at six Australian universities found international students were significantly less aware of academic integrity processes, and much less confident about how to avoid academic integrity breaches.
In 2017 alone, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported more than 20,000 students had bought professionally written essays from the country’s two largest essay-writing services.
According to a 2018 study, as many as 31 million university students worldwide are paying third parties to complete their assessments.
Yet the criminalisation of such services leads inevitably to the prosecution of cheating students, something the legal system has so far been reluctant to do.
But even discounting the possibility of legal action, plagiarism has hefty consequences for university students under misconduct policies, including revoking course credits, expulsion, and a permanent record of cheating.