We know that contract cheating is wrong. But what constitutes contract cheating and what behaviours are associated with this term can be confusing at times, particularly in an online learning environment. What may seem like the easy way out can have severe consequences for both you and your classmates. You may even be engaging in behaviour that constitutes contract cheating and not even know it yet.
It can be tempting to take what seems like the easy way out, especially if you have run out of time to get your assignment in, or if a friend has offered to help write your assignment for you. What if other students in your class have signed up for online assignment tutoring? With assessment deadlines looming and the combined stresses of remote learning and family and work commitments, various forms of cheating might begin to sound like a good idea. But what may seem like a shortcut to make life easier right now can have ongoing serious consequences both for the person that cheats and the people around them.
Contract cheating involves engaging a third party to complete part or all of your work and then submitting the work as if you had completed it yourself. This could be a friend, a family member, a private tutor or a ghostwriter. There does not need to have been any payment involved for something to be considered contract cheating.
Contract cheating includes, but is not limited to:
With the transition to remote learning, contract cheating companies have found new opportunities and more sinister ways to target students across multiple different online platforms. These companies often present themselves as providing a legitimate, honest service. They may even pose as a student joining an online unit of study group, or an online tutorial, where they share links with other students to sign up for “tutoring”, which is in fact illegitimate assignment coaching. More and more students are getting caught up in situations that lead them to breach academic integrity requirements – sometimes without even realising it. It’s important to know how to protect yourself from contract cheating services and be aware of the serious consequences of being involved in contract cheating, not only for the students who engage in it, but for everyone else too.
Even if you don’t directly ask someone else to sit your exam or write your assignment, you may still be engaging in risky contract cheating behaviours. It is important to protect yourself and your own work in an online environment by avoiding these behaviours, which increase your risk of engaging in contract cheating.
Examples of contract cheating behaviours:
If you get caught participating in contract cheating, you’ll face serious academic consequences under the University’s policies. This could range from failing an assignment or the unit of study, to exclusion from your course. If you are an international student, the risk is even greater, as your study visa may be affected. Most importantly, by engaging in risky behaviours– you're cheating yourself. Not only are you risking your degree, you also won’t learn the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in your chosen career.
But the consequences of contract cheating aren’t simply limited to academic misconduct. Cheating on assessments negatively impacts your fellow students as it gives individuals that engage in it an unfair advantage and can result in the entire cohort facing the consequences. Contract cheating also undermines the trust employers and the general public have in universities, the value of degrees and graduates, and the students. Not only this, but contract cheating is also considered a criminal offence in Australia.
While the legislation targets the activities of commercial contract cheating companies in providing or advertising their paid services to students, it also creates a civil offence for individuals providing illegitimate assistance, whether for payment or not. This would cover situations, for example, where a friend or family member writes or contributes to a substantial part of a student’s work.
Engaging in this form of cheating also carries significant personal risks. Providing sensitive personal and financial information to contract cheating companies, including your University login details, puts you at risk of theft, identity fraud and blackmail. Some providers will threaten to tell the University and hold students to ransom unless they pay money to the blackmailers.
If you become aware that contract cheating has occurred, you can report it to your lecturer, tutor or to firstname.lastname@example.org. We treat all reports of academic dishonesty made by students as confidential.