Identifying, avoiding and reporting commercial cheating services
- Beta release for consultation and feedback. Please email comments and suggestions to academic.integrity [at] teqsa.gov.au.
Commercial cheating services are a growing problem for students and higher education providers around the world.
These services not only threaten academic integrity, they also expose students to criminals. Research shows operators of these illegal cheating services will threaten to inform the institution or the student’s future employer about a student’s contract cheating unless the student pays them a large sum of money.
In Australia, new laws came into effect in September 2020 that ban commercial cheating services and the promotion of these services to Australian students. These laws include criminal penalties such as fines of up to $100,000. People who provide contract cheating services for free also face civil prosecution. These laws do not penalise students who use these services to engage in contract cheating – institutional discipline policies will continue to apply.
TEQSA has developed the following information to support students to identify, avoid and report commercial cheating services. This information is intended to complement, not replace, any advice you may receive from your institution.
Commercial cheating services can include websites, individuals or groups that market or provide contract cheating services to students.
Common examples of these illegal commercial cheating services are those which support contract cheating by selling students essays or assignments, or accept payment for someone to sit exams on a student’s behalf.
Often, these services market themselves as offering ‘study support’. Many of these illegal operators will ask that students upload a previous work or material from their course to access the advertised ‘support’.
Some of these illegal services have aggressive marketing tactics via social media, email and on-campus. For example, a student may post on social media about an essay they are writing and receive numerous ‘bot’ messages offering illegal contract cheating services.
While it can be difficult to easily identify illegal commercial cheating services from a legitimate tutor, you should avoid any service that:
- promises to help write or improve your essay or assignment or sit an exam on your behalf in exchange for money
- offers unsolicited ‘study support’ via social media, email or on-campus advertising
- asks that you upload a previous example of your work, or materials from your course, in order to receive help
- offers to sell you study notes, exams or other assessment materials.
Students experiencing study difficulties should always speak with their tutor or course coordinator first. This will help you access study support options that will protect your academic integrity.
Tip: Blocking any unsolicited messages received via social media or emails offering study support, essay writing or other contract cheating services can help you maintain your academic integrity.
TEQSA and Australia’s higher education providers work together to share intelligence about commercial cheating services. This supports institutions to protect student interests and academic integrity by securing their networks against illegal services.
Where to report a suspected commercial cheating service
To your provider
If you receive material promoting suspected commercial cheating services via your institutional email account, or accessed a suspected cheating site via your institution’s network, report it to your provider. You should also inform your provider if you come across posters, notices or business cards on your campus promoting commercial cheating services.
If you encounter a suspected commercial cheating service, you can report it by emailing complaints [at] teqsa.gov.au.
Your email should include information to help us investigate your concerns including:
- the website URL, social media account or email address you wish to report
- any supporting evidence such as screenshots.
Due to the need for TEQSA to investigate and determine if the site is in breach of Australia’s laws prohibiting commercial cheating services it may take time before action is taken. TEQSA will not provide updates on its investigations or outcomes into any individual report.