University cheats would face two years' jail or big fines under Coalition plan

April 08, 2019

University cheats risk two years in jail or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines under a future Morrison government.

The Conservative Party will go further and disqualify from permanent residency any overseas students caught cheating.

The Guardian reports, Education Minister, Dan Tehan, is warning, under new legislation he wants to introduce, “anyone who helps students cheat through their university exams or during the writing of essays will face stiff penalties”, including up to two years imprisonment and fines of up to $210,000.

Australian universities identified “contract cheating”, where students outsource university work and assessments, usually through overseas-based websites, as an emerging issue over the last few years, with a recent survey finding almost 70% of academics suspected their students were cheating or availing themselves of online cheating services.

“We will also take action to ensure that those online providers of cheating will be dealt with as well,” Minister Tehan said.

But the government jurisdiction only goes so far, meaning targeting overseas websites becomes less of a punitive exercise and more one of track and block.

“We are going to use blocking to make sure that they can not provide those services,” the Minister said. “And those that are here and operating in Australia, understand that we will come after you. Because it is simply not fair for all those students who do the work themselves, who study hard, that they are facing competition from others who use online cheating services.”

Contract cheating is not new. In 2014, an essay ghostwriting service targeting Chinese students studying in Australia made headlines, which led to some students being expelled from their universities.

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