Published on November 24, 2013 | by Adam Biagini

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Outsourcing opportunity for student cheats

Student working at a computer

With a quick search on Google, its no wonder this potion is so tempting for struggling students [Aylin Elci]

A new outsourcing phenomenon has emerged amongst students in the West. Normally done by large corporations who outsource their IT, call centre and retail operations to parts of East Asia lowering production costs, some might say this ‘exploits’ cheap labour.

But it’s not just the big corporations cashing in on the impoverished; it’s now students and individuals using these services too.

With a few quick searches on Google, we were met with numerous options for outsourcing university work. This new trend seems to be focused in India. Websites such as ukdissertations.in, indiadissertations.com and dissertationmumbai.com all offer discreet services to the ‘cash-rich’ student.

The best of the bunch appeared to be a site called tutorsindia.com. From engineering and doctoral dissertations, help with journal publications, statistical research, and PhD theses’. You’ll even receive 10% discount if you and a friend use their services simultaneously.

Assignment

We sent them an email asking for help with an assignment. We gave a second-year Journalism essay question, along with a reading list, and asked if it could be done within a week, with a word count of 2,500. Raj an employee sent a prompt reply with the following:

“Dear Adam, thanks for your patience. We can definitely help you in your assignment. As per your requirements, find the price quote and timeline for the project below.”

It was to be completed in five working days,and the quote he gave was $250, which is around £155. This works out at around 6p per word.

If this sounds tempting however, you might want to think twice before resorting to Raj’s services, because while online feedback on student forums generally report these websites to be reliable and trustworthy, according to tutors it’s not such a fool-proof option.

Detectable

Steve Cross, programme director for Communications and Media at LCC, and the course leader for MA Media Communications and Critical Practice, said: “It’s surprisingly easy to detect. Most of the individuals or companies involved in writing these standard papers use a jarringly obvious style, mainly based on American term papers.

“If one is used to a student writing in a particular style and then they suddenly receive a perfectly argued paper written in a bland, idiom-free, ‘on the one hand this, but on the other hand that’ sort of essay, alarm bells immediately ring,” Cross said.

Asked about what he thought universities could do to combat the practice, he said that it’s easy enough to uncover students using these services: “Most academics are astute enough to realise when they are reading one of these commissioned pieces. If it got too out of hand there would be a big move to bring back exams.”

‘Demeaning’

“It’s surprisingly easy to detect.” – Steve Cross, LCC

So what about students at UAL? Had they even heard of these services, would they consider using them, or had they already done so? Laure Rees-Smith, a third year Graphic Design student from LCC said that while she had not heard of this type of outsourcing, she doubted she would resort to it:

“I’d be too scared really. I can see why desperate students would resort to it, but even for a tiny bit of plagiarism it’s very serious if you get found out. I wouldn’t like to think what would happen if tutors realised you were doing that. Plus it seems an awful lot of money and I’m already spending enough on my course.”

Brigid Deacon, an Illustration student from Camberwell, had similar thoughts, and also said that she thought it was “quite demeaning to the academics doing the work to be paid to do Western student’s degrees for them because they can’t find better work.”

However, asked whether he thought it exploitative, Cross answered: “No more or less than outsourcing manufacturing of clothing, cars, or computers. It’s based on an uneven distribution of resources and power typical of the neo-liberal model of globalisation in which the global north outsources labour to the global south where labour (including intellectual labour) is typically cheap.”

Neither student had heard of people in their colleges using these services, although this may be down to those who do so doing it secretly, either through fear of being caught, or out of shame. There is a real danger in having these things at your fingertips, if you have someone doeverything in your life, you’ll soon leave yourself defunct.


It’s not just about ‘cheating your tutors’ to get good grades. Now you can outsource your life too

Esquire’s editor-in-chief AJ Jacobs recently penned a piece for the magazine about an experiment where he outsourced his entire life; from research for articles to buying toys for his son and even dealing with his neuroses.

Everything was done in India. Brickwork, a company that makes “the benefits of outsourcing available to individuals and small to mid-sized companies”, dealt with the work side of Jacob’s life while ‘Your Man in India’ handled the daily chores, and even wrote an apology to Jacobs wife after an argument they’d had.

Although initially appealing, the thought of rich western businessmen paying as little as $4 to $10 an hour, for these services, strikes a rather exploitative note.

Jacob’s story is not unusual though, there have been many reports of Westerners, from graphic designers to bankers doing it. The Internet and technology has made every risky or illicit activity more accessible.

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