NT has uncovered a number of websites claiming to offer tailor-made essays for nursing degree students – raising concerns that undergraduates may be able to buy their way into the profession.
The sites claim to offer custom-written essays at both degree and postgraduate level on specific subjects, written to a set deadline.
They claim to be written exactly to students’ specifications by professional writers – and therefore can pass undetected by university anti-plagiarism software that searches for existing model essays on the internet.
One site also had a selection of more than 30 nursing essays available on a wide range of topics and was also looking for ‘high-quality writers’.
NT contacted the sites via email posing as a nursing student and asked them to write a fictional second-year degree level essay on palliative care.
Our reporter was able to obtain three offers to write the essay, which was to be written within a month. Quotes ranged from £83 to £179 .
Even though the essays are written to order and specific deadlines, the sites all claim they are for reference purposes only and should not be submitted by students as original work.
Researchers at Birmingham City University have raised concerns about so-called ‘contract cheating’ in other fields, such as IT.
Robert Clarke, an IT lecturer at the university has been researching contract cheating in his own and other subjects, and found evidence that it occurs in nursing. A search of his files revealed a nursing student who attempted to offer a 2,500-word essay on tonsillectomy out to tender in 2006.
Naomi Baker, RCN student member of council, said: ‘It is down to the universities to do something about this. It does not reflect well on a student if they are going to get someone else to do their work.’
Irene Anderson, senior lecturer in tissue viability at the University of Hertfordshire, said: ‘It is something that is a concern across the whole education sector.
‘In reality most sites that claim to write to order in fact recycle bits of the essays, adapting them for the customer, this means that plagiarism software is more likely to pick them up.’