With over 20,000 complaints raised by students to their universities there has been a lot of discussion of whether the university system in the UK provides good value for money. The majority of complaints stem from students complaining about their grades but there are also a large number of complaints regarding course structure and contents. Anglia Ruskin university received the largest number of complaints with a group of law students complaining that their course had been moved to Cambridge university some 45 miles away.
One UK essay writing company has joined in the argument saying that the number of students now seeking additional help with their studies has rocketed since the introduction of student tuition fees and with the prospect of tuition fees being raised further the company argues that students are getting less and less for their money and are seeking to protect their investments by seeking the help they need form the private sector. This has lead to a renewed scrutiny of the essay writing sector and the impact they have on the quality of educational delivery in the UK.
Unlike the in the US there are no laws preventing UK companies from offering essay, assignment or dissertation writing services. Over the last year the number of companies offering these services have dramatically increased and this has lead to questions regarding the trading practices of these companies. We have taken an in-depth look in to the companies offering academic writing services and have hound some interesting and yet worrying information. Let’s start with the Good:
The Good – Essay Writing Companies
Looking at the companies offering essay writing services in Google we can see a number of established, UK based companies offering writing services. These companies typically have detailed information regarding plagiarism and state clearly that their work cannot be submitted by students as their own work. Prices for these “good companies” tend to be relatively high, reaching into the hundreds and in the case of dissertations even thousands of pounds. Despite the long trading history of some of these companies we could only find two (2) essay writing companies that had genuine UK landlines and operated from dedicated UK offices.
Some of the determining factors of a “good company”were found to be:
- Guarantees and quality procedures in place to ensure that work supplied is original, not plagiarised and is the standard that the student expects.
- The company is a registered UK company, registered for VAT and fully compliant with Data Protection
- Any payment methods are served on a secure connection and processed by a major UK bank
- The company has a UK landline telephone number (remembering that landlines can be rented and redirected to mobiles or outside the UK) and the operators speak clear English and are not taking calls via a foreign call centre
- The company is know through word of mouth, reliance on web based reviews and comments were not found to be reliable and in many cases had found to be manipulated
- The company were able to provide evidence that the work being carried out was by qualified academics
What is worrying is that these “good companies” were difficult to find in web based search engines unless the user knew the exact name of the company they were looking for. This leads us onto the bad:
The Bad – Essay Writing Companies?
In start contrast to the good companies a number of academic writing services are using tricks to make their websites look authentic. The most common trick that these “bad companies” use is to disguise their location, often attempting to pass off as genuine UK companies when they are in-fact based in far flung locations such as Nigeria or the US. Some of the ways that these companies manage to pass off as being UK based are:
- Using non-geographic phone numbers or leasing land lines in the UK that redirect to their foreign call centre or cellphone – the giveaway is often in the ring-tone when dialing these numbers
- Hosting websites on .co.uk domain names, often registered to fictitious individuals or companies in the UK.
- Renting virtual office space in the UK, the address often gives this away and a quick search of the address on the web will often show results for low cost virtual office space.
- Displaying false credit card logos, seals and stamps. Going through to place an order will often give away the true source of where the company processes it’s financial transactions.
- No visible company information in the site or companies that when checked on Companies House are either dormant or have never submitted accounts
The difference in work between a “bad company” and a “good company” is vast. While a “good company” will produce unique work, written by a professional and checked for plagiarism and quality a “bad company” will often simply plagiarise material from the web and pass it off as something they have written. Another ploy used by “bad companies” is to resell the same piece of work to multiple students. Companies with just a handful of writers will often use the same writers to produce work in fields of study that they are not qualified and this inevitably leads to unacceptably poor levels of work with no real understanding of the subject being written about.
You may think that the “bad companies” show the worse side of this industry but because of the way that many of us search the web and the fact that more and more business is done online there is now a completely new type of essay writing company – the ugly!:
The Ugly – Not an Essay Writing Company
While a bad company offers a poor quality of service often under false pretenses a truly “ugly company” has no intention of delivering work at all. Many of us will be familiar with Phishing scams with banks, Paypal, telephone companies and others. Now we are seeing a huge increase in the amount of Phishing sites attempting to exploit the essay writing company. Part of the reason for their success is that, a student who feels they are paying for a service that may be considered by some to be cheating, are much less likely to complain to their bank if they do not receive the work they were expecting after making payment. These “ugly companies” exploit this shame that some students feel for not being able to live up to the academic brilliance of their peers.
We have found 2 different types of what we call “ugly companies” purportedly offering essay writing services:
- Websites set up with the specific intention of gaining personal information about you; telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card details…
- Companies who accept payment for services that they have no intention of delivering, often facilitated by foreign card processing services or by the user entering their credit card details into a form on the website itself
While a search on Google or Bing for a bank or store will likely show genuine results on the first page a search in the essay writing industry is likely to return phishing sites and scams on the first page. Why is this? Back in 2007 Google took a stand against essay writing companies as a result of the State of California passing a law preventing any company advertising “academic dishonesty”. In response to this law Google and others applied a blanket rule to all companies who they deemed to be advertising academic writing services. This rule still applies today but only to those companies originally penalised by the rule. This means that long-standing, established companies are less likely to show up in results than new companies who may have only been trading for a number of days.
Unfortunately it is unlikely that this situation is going to change with the attitude of search engines and universities being that students seeking help from essay writing companies somehow deserve to be scammed
The future of the essay writing industry
Although it is unclear how the essay writing industry will fare in the future it is clear that as tuition fees continue to increase, and the level of support offered by colleges and universities continues to decrease, students will continue to look to essay writing companies for help and support with their studies. With so many students now falling victim to the many scams targeting them maybe it’s time for universities to listen to the likes of Tony Eynon (CEO of a company specialising in UK Essay Writing – www.ukessays.com) who has been calling for universities to start working with the essay writing industry for a number of years (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7552675/Students-can-buy-essays-worth-a-21.html).