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Academic dishonesty and plagiarism

Contract cheating and impersonation

Contract cheating involves getting someone else to complete part or all of your work and then submitting the work as if you had completed it yourself. This can include asking someone else to sit an exam for you or having them write an essay, report or some other kind of assignment, which is sometimes referred to as 'ghostwriting'.

Although the term 'contract cheating' suggests that some kind of payment is involved, there doesn’t have to be a payment for something to be considered contract cheating.

Contract cheating behaviours

You can be accused of contract cheating if you:

  • buy a completed assignment from a tutoring or ghostwriting company
  • ask a partner, friend or family member to write part or all of an assignment for you
  • pay a private tutoring company to coach you on how to complete an assignment
  • submit 'model' assignment answers provided by a private tutor or tutoring company
  • get someone to sit an exam for you
  • sit an exam for someone else
  • buy, sell or swap completed assignments or assignment answers via 'sharing' websites or social media platforms like Facebook and WeChat.

While the academic consequences for contract cheating can be severe, the personal consequences of engaging in contract cheating can be even more serious.

These personal consequences can include losing the trust and respect of your teachers, friends and family, as well as undermining your future employment and career prospects. It may also affect your registration with professional associations, employer groups and federations.

Some contract cheating companies have taken to blackmailing students who buy completed assignments from them. This blackmail might start while a student is at University, but can continue long after they have graduated.

The risks associated with contract cheating are just not worth it and are much, much worse than the prospect of failing an assignment.

Other behaviours associated with contract cheating

The following behaviours are associated with contract cheating and may be considered personal misconduct by the University. In some cases, these behaviours might also be against the law.

  • Uploading the University's copyright teaching materials such as unit of study outlines, lecture slides and assignment questions to 'study notes' sharing websites so that you can access documents uploaded by other students.
  • Selling or sharing the University's teaching materials with private tutoring or ghostwriting companies.
  • Booking University venues on behalf of private tutoring companies who illegally use the University's teaching materials to provide their own services to students for payment.
  • Providing your UniKey login details to private tutoring and ghostwriting companies so that they can access teaching materials hosted in Canvas.

The University takes contract cheating, misconduct and impersonation very seriously and applies severe penalties under the University of Sydney (Student Discipline) Rule. This may mean you fail your unit of study, or that you are suspended or expelled from the University.

Last updated: 27 June 2022

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