University students could get criminal records for plagiarising essays

University students who buy pre-written essays could face fines and a criminal record if they are caught, under new government plans.

Amid fears 'tens of thousands' of students are buying their dissertations from websites, rather than writing them themselves.

Universities watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency said 'hundreds of essay mills' are charging up to £7000 for writing PhD quality dissertations.

Last year, a report was published by the QAA which outlined the scale of the issue which stated that essays were selling from £15 all the way up to the thousands depending on the subject complexity and essay length.

Universities minister and brother of Boris, Jo Johnson said it was 'unacceptable' for students to cheat and plans to take 'tough action' against the rise of commercial plagiarism.

The Department of Education is currently consulting on a number of proposals on how to crack down on this issue. And at the moment, proposed punishments include fines, having your name on an academic blacklist, and even a criminal record.

An investigation by The Times found that in the past three years, over 50,000 UK students have been caught cheating or plagiarising in some form.

A DofE spokesperson said that the government is open to a change in the law:

“It is certainly something that could be in the guidance, we are not ruling out a change in legislation down the line.
“Such academic misconduct is a breach of an institution's disciplinary regulations and can result in students, in serious cases, being expelled from the university.”

Better stop all that copy and pasting then, eh?