It is estimated that the ‘professional essay writing industry’ – services offering to quickly complete any assignment, to any standard, for a fee – is now worth over £100m, providing completed assignments to tens of thousands of students at UK universities every year.
Generally, work ordered from essay mills is given to one of the thousands of freelance writers on their books, most of whom have a specialist subject. One company, UK Essays, boasts “3,500 writers, all of whom are qualified to degree-level at a minimum, and many of whom are teachers, lecturers and professionals.”
When a student places an order, all they do is give the details of their assignment, the number of pages and deadline, and then wait for a quote. For consistency, some will let you choose your required grade – a basic undergraduate essay in English Literature from the cheaper sites at a 2:1 standard will set you back around £30 – but others know you will simply want the best product possible and can charge thousands. They’re getting smarter, too. To counter QAA guidelines, some sites now ask for samples of previous work, to inspire the copy artist further.
Although plagiarism detection software is available advances in technology, especially those associated with Artificial Intelligence may be a means by which AI driven vivas’ can be deployed in order to augment the security, validity and verification checks already in use by many education providers.