Cheating Companies Offer To Take Chinese Students Online Courses

Contract Cheating Services took advantage of the shift to online education by offering to take entire modules for students, including attending classes, completing homework and taking exams.

Online searches reveal several pages of essay factory advertisements targeting Chinese students taking courses at foreign universities, with services tailored to Zoom courses and online courses.

A company offers services that cover the entire course of an online course, including discussions, homework, and exams. Another agency offers different student packages, with options including one-stop coaching and support throughout an online or blended module.

When asked about the cost of Zoom courses for a student, a customer service representative at a company said Times Higher Education: “If there is only a moderate amount of homework, the cost should be $ 100 (£ 72) to $ 150 per week – it depends on the writer’s citation and the course schedule.” Another agency said it charges between $ 600 and $ 1,500 for an entire module.

Agencies try to alleviate potential clients’ fears of being caught by offering help with communications. One service provider says its editors will compose emails for students, and if faculty have questions, “all you have to do is forward the email.”

Thomas Lancaster, a senior researcher at Imperial College London and an expert in contract fraud, said that editorial factories had offered to take comprehensive assessment programs for several years now, but the move to e-learning driven by Covid meant that “the availability of this service has arisen in the discussion.”

According to Chinese media, an undercover journalist received 10 orders in one day after joining a coaching company. The reporter learned that the company’s business was “exploding” during the pandemic.

Phillip Dawson, associate director of the Center for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning at Deakin University, said tackling this type of misconduct “will require a mixture of positive academic integrity and competing assessment security.”

“Positive approaches, such as educating students about the issues related to these services, are essential,” said Professor Dawson. “One approach to securing real-time activities like exams is high-quality biometrics that verify that the student is who they say they are, such as matching students’ keystrokes, voice, or face with data that has been collected under controlled conditions. “

But he admitted that it was very difficult to try to prevent people from “voluntarily revealing their identity”.

Dr Lancaster said universities “need to know that the right people are accessing their systems to avoid all cybersecurity risks associated with allowing contract cheating providers to access their intellectual property.”

However, Professor Dawson added: “If the teaching stays on Zoom, the cheating will also be there. “

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