Liberal Democrats have welcomed the decision by the Government to endorse their calls for tougher sentencing for ‘Essay Mills’.
Essay Mills refers to essay writing services, which enable students to have their essays, thesis and even parts of their PhD written for them for a fee. The industry currently makes millions of pounds every year and are often marketed at students as an easy way to get good grades.
Lord Mike Storey, former leader of Liverpool City Council, has tabled Private Members’ Bills in the House of Lords three times on this issue and has been working across party lines to raise awareness around the damage these services can have.
In his most recent Private Members’ Bill, tabled in May this year, Lord Storey also raised a case he was aware of where a company was pushing students from low-income backgrounds into various post-16 and further education courses using Essay Mills and the offer of “easy money”.
The Government initially rebuffed the Lib Dem efforts by saying “there is little evidence to suggest that cheating services are a problem in post-16 and further education providers”, but have since accepted the issue needs tackling and announced it will be included in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.
Commenting on the announcement Lord Mike Storey, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson in the House of Lords, said: “I’m glad to see that the Government has finally woken up to this huge issue and are backing my calls for action.
“Essay cheating services are highly exploitative. They are being used to push vulnerable young people into educational routes that will not help them.
“They may style themselves as revision or study aids, but no amount of slick PR can change what these services really do – they cheat the system and cheat students.
“It’s vital that we crack down on this shady essay black market which preys upon students who are understandably feeling the pressure of studying during the pandemic.
“We must ensure that all young people are supported and have a range of academic options to choose from, in order to help them gain the skills they need to get the jobs they want.”