Recently there has been a lot of very public, highly politicised discussion as to the legality of essay writing services, with the lens focused very squarely on university regulations – which is to say, on the institutional rules under which students must work. In particular, a good deal of energy has been channelled into a punitive rationale – spearheaded by the University Standards Watchdog and echoed by the Universities Minister – in which students are, before the fact, assumed guilty of cheating for enlisting any kind of professional assistance. In other words, the accusatory assumption has been made that any student using an essay writing website is ipso facto using said services in a dishonest manner.
In addition to its cynical perception of students, the obvious incoherency of this assumption highlights an evidently misguided and yet, sadly, rather predictable kind of logic filtering the way in which the establishment perceives the university system. After all, it is far easier (though palpably absurd) to assert that thousands upon thousands of UK students are simply cheating, than to acknowledge the possibility of systemic problems in the education system; that students need more than they are being given. For this would turn the finger of blame away from students; and then where would it land?
So, in place of thoughtful analysis, we have alarmist proposals of banning websites, blocking URLs, and other kinds of censorship – all propped up on spurious legal grounds. To be quite clear, in the current context, questions of legality are essentially moot. It would virtually be impossible to implement any law which tried to prevent a free individual from purchasing a piece of text, for the plain reason that no crime is being committed. Any right-headed legislator knows this, rendering as decidedly misplaced the current legalistic tenor of politicians and regulators expanding upon the topic at hand.
Is it cheating?
The real issue here is not juridical but, rather, moral in nature. So, let us address the central question at stake. Is using an essay writing service cheating? The simple answer is: no. The purpose of a professional writing company is to provide model answers, in addition to certain editorial and proofreading services (which universities do not themselves provide). These are learning aids and meant to assist the student with their own composition, not to replace it. This is made very clear on our website. It would only be cheating were the student to try and palm off a model answer as their own original work. This would be the case no matter where that model answer came from, for it would be plagiarism, which is not a service we offer, condone or promote.
The point is: cheating is cheating. Anyone who wants to gain advantage through deception will find a way to do so. Doubtless, there are some people who misuse essay writing services. In any situation, there will always be a minority who want to take shortcuts. That is a fact of human nature; but it is a necessity of life that we not punish the innocent majority for the behaviour of a wayward minority.
As our own literature makes abundantly clear, we are one hundred percent against plagiarism. In this respect, we fully agree with the universities regulator. Cheating not only harms the academy, it disservices the cheater themself. Students who plagiarise, in whatever context, deprive themselves of a valuable opportunity to learn and to grow – as scholars and individuals. As we have always maintained, writing an essay is a challenging but highly rewarding endeavour which is fundamental to the university experience. Just because some students need extra help in mastering what is undeniably a complex and difficult craft, does not mean they should be maligned or punished. This is entirely to miss the point of what essay writing sites are for and, more importantly, why they exist in the first place.
The fact that many hard-working, honest students need more help and guidance than university resources allow highlights a critical and rather obvious insight: that the tertiary education system is in some significant sense lacking. Of course, there are political and economic issues simmering beneath the debate, which necessarily inflect the official line. Especially now that students have to take out loans in order to pay sizeable tuition fees, with many also needing part-time jobs just to get by, the pressure to perform is far greater than ever before. Given the fact that the financial burden on students has increased so vastly in the previous decade, one must by rights question if the corollary service delivered by universities has likewise increased exponentially?
The need for help
Looking at the issue from this vantage, it is perhaps clearer why certain quarters would rather suppose that the academy is flawless and that any student needing additional help must therefore be intrinsically corrupt and intent on defrauding that unimpeachable system. Indeed, this would be a very politically convenient explanation. Now as always, however, political convenience is a poor substitute for an honest confrontation with the facts.
The people who need it
We know first-hand that a lot of students are simply not receiving the help they need, with many feeling truly lost and, frankly, ignored; grist for the academic mill, as it were. Furthermore, we know, from both the feedback from reviews and the many thankful letters and phone calls we receive, how much of a help our services provide to undergraduates who otherwise have few sources of guidance available to them.
In the final analysis, the issue has never really been about cheating; it has always been more complicated and wider reaching than that. An essay writing service is simply a tool. Any tool can be misused in the wrong hands. It is worth reiterating that skill in writing does not fall out of the sky into a person’s lap. It is cultivated with care and attention – and often with assistance. This is what we do; we guide, mentor and facilitate. We provide the extra helping hand which it is quite apparent students deeply require.