Students in Ireland are being targeted by paid-for college paper cheating services in WhatsApp groups, according to Ireland's academic standards watchdog Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).
A paid-for cheating service, or 'contract cheating' occurs when a student submits a body of work as their own despite it being researched and composed by a third party.
According to QQI, representatives or chatbots from these underground cheating services are being 'planted' into college group chats across Ireland.
When an unsuspecting student asks for help from the group the 'plant' offers assistance. Stressed and unsuspecting students then avail of their services - often with dire consequences.
These unscrupulous networks are known to blackmail students; threatening to expose the student to their academic institution if they fail to pay more than the agreed fee.
With many students unaware that the advertisement of contract cheating is illegal in Ireland, QQI senior manager of academic integrity Mairéad Boland is spearheading a social media crackdown on these services.
Talking to the Irish Independent, Boland says that cheating profiles have already been removed from the likes of TikTok and DoneDeal: "We are hoping other social media platforms will engage in the same way with us, We really need them to work with us to ensure our students are not being targeted," she said.
Thank you so much to @CCguerilla & @QQI_connect for yesterday's game-changing & thought provoking Master Class on academic integrity. Incredible insights into AI semantics, student support, detection & education. Huge thanks to the amazing @HackettShackett @BolandMairead & NAIN. pic.twitter.com/kjLyAa6eF4
— Marie O'Neill (@marie_librarian) May 13, 2022
Ireland is now leading the way in a contract cheating crackdown. Last week, QQI representatives along with Dr Kane Murdoch of the University of New South Wales' Student Conduct and Integrity Unit ran a series of masterclass sessions with third-level institutions on how to spot the telltale signs of fraudulent essays.