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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 18:09 GMT
Parents 'buy essays' for students
Lecture hall
Essay-writing services have been attacked by university authorities
Parents are paying hundreds of pounds for degree-course essays for their children studying at university, claims an essay-writing service.

The essay company, UKEssays.com, says that many student customers buying essays are using their parents' money.

"The students will talk about the essay they want and then they put their parents on the phone to give the credit card details," says a spokesman.

The company says these are "model essays" and not for plagiarism.

Universities have expressed concern about students buying customised essays and then submitting them as their own work.

'Helicopter parents'

Last year, Google introduced a ban on advertising from essay-writing firms.

"We appreciate that universities don't like essay-writing services," says spokesperson Jed Hallam.

But the UKEssays.com says that its essays, up to PhD level, are sold as learning resources for students wanting inspiration for their own work, rather than as a form of cheating.

The company says it has about 6,000 customers - and a survey of a third of these showed that parents had become a major factor in purchases.

So-called "helicopter parents" have been identified as part of modern campus life. These are parents, paying to support their student children, who increasingly want to interfere in how their children are being taught.

This latest survey suggests that parents, particularly more affluent ones, are now also willing to pay for essays.

"As the cost of education goes up, so parents seem to feel that they need to have an element of control," says Mr Hallam.

"There are parents who want a return on a very expensive education."

"It's easy to assume that the middle-classes are buying an unfair advantage over poorer but more able students," he says.

The essay-writing service has a menu of prices, determined by the length of the essay, the quality in terms of degree level and how rapidly it is required.

A 2,000-word undergraduate essay, at the level of a 2:2, written in two days is priced at 480.

A 10,000-word postgraduate dissertation, written in five days, would cost 2,667.

Universities UK, representing university leaders, remains hostile to essay-writing services, saying it is "absurd" to think that they are not misused by students.

A Universities UK spokesman also warns that there are "severe penalties for those students caught cheating, with many institutions already using advanced anti-plagiarism software to make sure that this is enforced".

SEE ALSO
Google bans essay writing adverts
22 May 07 |  Education
Student cheats contract out work
12 Jun 06 |  Education
'Quarter of students cheating'
30 Jun 04 |  Education

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