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Advisory Statement: Online study platforms seeking students for on-campus promotional activities

29 April 2021

TEQSA has been provided with examples of online study platforms seeking to employ Australian higher education students to promote their services to other students via on-campus events and activities.

TEQSA’s Higher Education Integrity Unit is concerned some of these websites may promote, enable or supply commercial academic cheating services (also known as contract cheating).

This is a concern shared by institutions, some of which have blocked student access to these platforms from their servers. 

Under Australia’s anti-cheating laws, the promotion or sale of academic cheating services is illegal and subject to penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment or fines of up to $110,000.

TEQSA is continuing to monitor and assess the operation of several online platforms to determine whether there has been a breach of Australia’s anti-cheating legislation.

There is a risk that students employed to promote a website could face criminal penalties should the website be found to be breaking Australian law.

TEQSA recommends: 

  • providers take steps to ensure that only authorised and verified organisations are able to engage in promotional activities (on or off-campus) that leverage on your institution’s brand
  • providers ensure that institutional policies are applied consistently. For example, if students are blocked from accessing a website through your servers, that same website should not be able to host an event on-campus
  • relevant policies regarding authorised commercial activity on-campuses be shared with any third-party organisations that operate on-campus events, such as student association market days and also communicated to students
  • higher education providers consider whether the use, or particular uses, of online study platforms constitute a breach of their institution’s policies and communicate any decision to their students
  • providers consider informing students about the risks posed via employment with study platforms that promote or sell commercial cheating services. TEQSA has published advice for students that may form part of your communication to students
  • providers remind students and staff about the importance of academic integrity and the risk posed by illegal cheating services
  • downloading and sharing resources for students and academics from the TEQSA website.

Providers with any queries about this matter can email integrityunit [at] teqsa.gov.au.