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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Essays website to pay students
students using pcs
Plagiarism is "pointless" says university
A UK-based website is inviting students to submit their essays and lecture notes - with the promise of getting paid when others access them.

Zarr's Student Zone denies it is encouraging plagiarism but openly says "the use of the information for cheating purposes cannot be ruled out".

The idea has been running for several years in the United States, but UK-specific course materials have been harder to come by.

Users of the site will have to pay 7.50 for each set of notes. The person who submitted them gets 5 a time.

The site is due to go "live" in the autumn but Zarr says academics have already questioned its intentions and whether it actively encourages plagiarism.

Zarr director and founder Hannah Reynolds says: "The role of Zarr Internet Services is to purely administer the flow of information between students submitting and buying information, rather than policing the contents or the use of the material available.

'Reference material'

"The notes and assignments can provide very useful reference material, however the use of the information for cheating purposes cannot be ruled out.

"The techniques for detecting plagiarism are becoming increasingly advanced, but if someone chooses to pursue that route then there are all sorts of sources of information available to the potential cheat, both on and off the internet. "

Ms Reynolds is a graduate of the University of Bradford Management Centre.

Bradford did not wish to comment on the activities of one of its alumni but said plagiarism was "pretty pointless".

"The whole point of a university education is that you are trying to show what you can do," said spokesperson Sue Coffey.

"Plagiarism is not going to benefit the student and anybody who has been doing it would be subject to an academic sanction whether it's from the web or from a printed version of anything."

Academics might suspect that their students have been cheating but it can be harder to prove, and statistics on the extent to which the internet is used are difficult to come by.

Last year, Edinburgh University withheld the annual grades of dozens of computing science students because of concerns over mass cheating via the net.

Examiners had found what they considered to be an unusual number of similarities in some of the work.

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See also:

27 Oct 99 | Education
Catching the internet cheats
11 Jan 99 | Education
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27 Aug 99 | Scotland
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09 Jul 99 | Education
University in Net cheating probe
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