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Nursing students implicated in coursework for cash claims

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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.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Lee Potiphar PhD RN

    Dear all,

    I can see this becoming more of a problem here in the UK, when eventually England makes the profession degree only; IMO this has to happen! I think it might be appropriate, although admittedly possibly not quite proportionate, for the universities to remove any student nurse from a pre-reg. nursing course who has been found to be ‘contract cheating’ and also inform the NMC who can then determine whether this person should be allowed to become a registered nurse in the future. This would send a clear and unambiguous signal to all students who might be contemplating paying £19:00 for a completed essay, rather than putting in the work themselves.

    My argument is that, if student nurses are happy to cheat in essays, what about when they become newly qualified nurses? How can they be trusted to act in a professional manner? Will they also cheat in, say the care they provide; what about drug charts and drug errors; the notes they take, and really anything that they do that could be cheated? I think that, if a student nurse is cheating in writing an essay, it does not bode well for when they eventually become registered. If the universities made plain at the start of the course that this is not just another degree course, it is preparation for becoming a trusted healthcare professional and thus, cheating is unacceptable, then perhaps we would have fewer students going down the cheating route.

    Lee

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