Contract cheating

Contract cheating occurs when one person completes academic work (e.g., assignment, exam, paper, test, quiz, exam) for another who then submits it for academic credit. This behavior undermines the quality and integrity of the degree, and it undermines the entire educational system.

According to experts, contract cheating:

  • accounts for about 1/5 of the plagiarism in papers submitted to turnitin (Newton & Lang, 2016)
    is a self-reported practice of at least 7% of students (Turnitin, 2013)
  • is a booming, lucrative business – between 2005-2013, “nearly 19,000 attempts at contract cheating” was made by students (Matthews, 2013)

UK’s Quality Assurance Agency released a report August 2016 about the scourge of contract cheating. It provides more information on the scope and damage of this industry.

Learn more about contract cheating

Government Reports

UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Report on contract cheating

TEQSA (2017). Good Practice Note: Addressing Contract Cheating to Safeguard Academic Integrity

News Reports

Contract Cheating (UC San Diego’s The Guardian)

Essays for Sale (International Business Times)

History Essay in the Making (The Guardian)

When Essays for Sale Become Contract Cheating (the BBC)

Thirteen Engineering Students Expelled from Deakin University (Daily Mail)

The Man Who Helps Students to Cheat (BBC News)

Cheating “Hot Spots”: The Crackdown on Contract Cheating in Universities. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

£630 and I’ll Put You on the Way to a First. (The Sunday Times)

“Essay Mills” to Be Subject to Prosecution under New Law. (Irish Legal News)

Essay Mills: University Course Work to Order. (Times Higher Education)

Essays for Sale: The Booming Online Industry in Writing Academic Work to Order. (The Guardian)

University Lecturers Are Topping up Earnings by Helping Students Cheat, Review Suggests. (The Telegraph)

Students’ Use of Contract Cheaters Who Auction off Homework to Dark Web Ghostwriters Rising, Professor Warns (CBC News)

Cheating goes global as essay mills multiply. (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Bertram Gallant & Balibalos. The Cultural Implications of Contract Cheating

Eaton (2018). Academic outsourcing: Essay mills, theses-on-demand, and contract cheating

Lancaster & Clarke (2012). The New Challenges of Contract Cheating

Yorke (2015). Breaking bad? Contract cheating and the threat to standards.

Research & Writings

Bailey, Tomar, & Chu, J. (2012). Paying for Plagiarism.

Bertram Gallant (2016). Response to White’s ‘Shadow Scholars and the Rise of the Dissertation Service Industry.

Bretag, Harper, Burton, Ellis, Newton, Rozenberg, et al. (2018). Contract cheating: a survey of Australian University Students.

Clarke & Lancaster (2007). Establishing a systematic six-stage process for detecting contract cheating

Clarke & Lancaster (2013). Commercial aspects of contract cheating

Curtis & Clare (2017). How prevalent is contract cheating and to what extent are students repeat offenders?

Dawson & Sutherland-Smith (2017). Can markers detect contract cheating? Results from a pilot study.

Dickerson. (2007). Facilitated plagiarism: the saga of term-paper mills and the failure of legislation and litigation to control them.

Draper, Ibezim, & Newton (2017). Are essay mills committing fraud? an analysis of their behaviours vs the 2006 Fraud Act (UK).

Draper & Newton (2017). A legal approach to tackling contract cheating?

Ellis, Zucker, & Randall. (2018). The infernal business of contract cheating: understanding the business processes and models of academic custom writing sites.

Foltynek & Kralikova (2018). Analysis of the contract cheating market in Czechia.

Harper, Bretag, Burton, Ellis, Newton, Rozenberg, et al. (2018). Contract cheating: a Survey of Australian University Staff

IJEI (2017). The Rise of Contract Cheating in Higher Education: Academic Fraud Beyond Plagiarism

Katkins (2018). Contract cheating advertisements: What they tell us about international students’ attitudes to academic integrity.

Lancaster & Clark (2012). Dealing with Contract Cheating: A Matter of Attribution

Lancaster & Clarke (2016). Contract cheating: the outsourcing of assessed student work

Lancaster & Clarke (2017). Rethinking assessment by examination in the age of contract cheating.

Mahmood (2009). Contract cheating: a new phenomenon in cyber-plagiarism.

Newton & Lang (2016). Custom essay writers, freelancers, and other paid third parties

O’Malley & Roberts (2012). Plagiarism on the rise? combating contract cheating in science courses.

Owings & Nelson (2014). The essay industry

Rigby, Burton, Balcombe, Bateman, & Mulatu (2015). Contract cheating & the market in essays.

Rogerson (2014). Detecting the work of essay mills and file swapping sites: Some clues they leave behind.

Rogerson (2017). Detecting contract cheating in essay and report submissions: Process, patterns, clues and conversations.

Rowland, Slade, Wong, & Whiting (2017). “Just Turn to Us”: the persuasive features of contract cheating websites.

Steel (2017). Contract cheating: Will students pay for serious criminal consequences?

Stella-Maris & Awala-Ale (2017). Exploring students’ perception and experience of ghostwriting and contract cheating in Nigeria higher education institutions.

Tauginiene & Jurkevicius (2017). Ethical and legal observations on contract cheating services as an agreement.

Walker & Townley (2012). Contract cheating: a new challenge for academic honesty?

Wallace & Newton (2014). Turnaround time and market capacity in contract cheating.

White (2016). Shadow scholars and the rise of the dissertation service industry: Can we maintain academic integrity?


Blog Postings

Anonymous (2013). Why I Write for an Essay Mill. (Times Higher Education).

Eaton (2018). Website hijacking by contract cheating companies

If you have resources to add to this page, email

Countdown to the 2018 International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating








Tell us you’ll stand up & speak out against Contract Cheating!


Join us for our 3rd International Day of Action against Contract Cheating on October 17th, 2018 – Carnegie Council’s Global Ethics Day!

In 2016, for our 1st International Day of Action we had 22 institutions participate around the world and in 2017, we had 76! Let’s triple participation again in 2018 to see over 200 institutions participate. Sign up today to join the movement!

We ask that institutions speak up and out against contract cheating by:

2018 Participating Institutions

2016 Participating Institutions

American University of Nigeria
Yola Town, Adamawa State, Nigeria, Africa

Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University
Canakkale, Turkey

Colorado Community Colleges Online
Denver, Colorado, USA

Concordia University Chicago
Denver, Colorado, USA

Coventry University
Coventry, UK

Curtin University
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Deree, The American College of Greece
Athens, Greece

​Florida International University
Miami, Florida, USA

Golden Key International Honor Society – University of Tasmania Chapter
Sandy Bay,

Humber College – School of Health Sciences
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Idaho State University – ITRC
Pocatello, Idaho, USA

​Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas, USA

​Majan University College
Muscat, Oman

Molloy College
Rockville Center, New York, USA

Mykolas Romeris University
Vilnius, Lithuania

New College Durham
Durham, UK

Stevenson University
Stevenson, Maryland, USA

Thomas Edison State University
Trenton, New Jersey, USA

University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

University of California, Irvine
Irvine, California, USA

​University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California, USA

​University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California, USA
@ucsdintgrity (Twitter & Instagram)

University of Colorado System
Denver, Colorado, USA

University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma, USA

University of Rochester
Rochester, NY, USA

​University of South Australia
Adelaide, Australia

University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

​University of Wisconsin – Stout
Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA

University of Wollongong in Dubai
Dubai, UAE

Utah State University
Logan, UT, USA

Waynesboro High School
Waynesboro, West Virginia, USA

West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

Western International University
Tempe, AZ, USA

2017 Participating Institutions

Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University
Canakkale, Turkey

Coventry University
Priory Street, Coventry, UK
Coventry University London Campus, East India House, London, UK

Humber College – School of Health Sciences
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas, USA 
@kstatehonorcode (Twitter)

​​NUI Galway
Galway, Ireland

Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield, UK

Conestoga College
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Seneca College
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

University of Caglary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
RUacademicintegrity @RU_AIO

Rio Salado College
Tempe, AZ, USA

West Coast University
Anaheim, CA, USA

International Collège of Hotel Management
137 Days Road Regency Park South Australia

Kaplan Business School
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide

Torrens University Australia
680 George St, Sydney.
Campuses in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane

Centennial College
941 Progress Ave., Toronto, ON, M1G 3T8, Canada

Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW Calgary Alberta T3E 56K6, Canada

University of Insubria
Varese and Como, Italy

Mykolas Romeris University
Ateities g. 20, Vilnius, Lithuania

Florida Gulf Coast University 
10501 FGCU Boulevard South, Fort Myers, Florida 33965, USA @FGCUConduct
#AIMHigh Academic Integrity Matters

Deree, The American College of Greece
6 Gravias Street, Agia Paraskevi, Athens, Greece 15342

European Network for Academic Integrity
Zemedelska 1, Brno, Czech Republic

Majan University College
Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Rochester Institute of Technology 
Rochester, NY, USA

University of Dubuque 
2000 University Avenue Dubuque, Iowa, USA

DRS International School
Campus, Survey No. 523 Opp.Apparel Park, Gundla Pochampally, Medchal Mandal, R.R. District : 500100, Telangana, India.

University of Denver 
Driscoll Student Center North 2055 E. Evans Ave. Denver, CO 80208, USA

Molloy College 
Rockville Centre, New York, USA

London, UK

Waynesboro High School 
1200 W. Main St, Waynesboro VA, USA

University of Maryland University College
3501 University Boulevard East, Adelphi, MD 20783, USA

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
Southgate House, Southgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1UB, UK

University of Wollongong
Northfields Avenue; Wollongong NSW 2522, Australia

Nottingham Trent University
Clifton Lane, Nottingham NG11 8NS, UK

International College of Advanced Education 
17 Chapman Road Rapid Creek NT, Australia

Centro de Lenguas Ibero 
Torreón Torreón, Coahuila, México
CLC Ibero Torreón

Universidad Norbert Wiener 
Lima, Peru

Universidad del Magdalena 

Carrera 32 No 22 – 08, Santa Marta, ColombiaÉtico

Sheridan College
HMC Campus, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Davis Campus, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
​Trafalgar Campus, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Université du Québec en Outaouais
Gatineau, Québec, Canada

University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California, USA

University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma, USA

​University of South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

University of Windsor
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Higher Colleges of Technology – AL AIN MEN’S CAMPUS
AL AIN, United Arab Emirates

Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario, Canada

University of Wollongong in Dubai
Knowledge Park, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Florida International University
Miami, Florida, USA

College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137, USA

American University of Nigeria
98 Lamido Zubairu Way Yola Township bypass PMB 2250, Yola Adamawa State, Nigeria

University of Maribor
Slomškov trg 15, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia

2101 Webster St, Suite 1800 Oakland, California 94612 United States; Also offices in UK, The Netherlands, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, India


University of York 
Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK

The University of Northampton
Boughton Green Road, Northampton NN2 7AL, United Kingdom
@uninorthants , @northamptonSU

Centrum vedecko-technických informácií (Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information) 
Lamacska cesta 8/A, Bratislava, Slovakia

Cambridge International College 
108 Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000, Australia

Christ’s Church Academy, National Honor Society
10850 Old St. Augustine Re, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Premier Institute of Education
143 Durham Street, Tauranga, New Zealand

Universidad de Monterrey 
Av. Ignacio Morones Prieto 4500, Col. Jesus M. Garza, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon, Mexico @embajadoresintegridadudem

Majan University College 
Muscat, Oman
majan_college (Twitter) majancollege (instagram)

Fiji National University 
Lot 1 Kings Road, Nasinu. (P.O.Box 7222 Nasinu), Fiji Islands

The American University of Afghanistan 
Kabul, Afghanistan
American University of Afghanistan (AUAF)

Staffordshire University Students Union 
Stoke-On-Trent, ST4 2DE, UK

Utah State University 
Logan, UT 84322, USA

Agency “Zitier-Weise” – Science Counselling, Plagiarism Prevention & Detection
Vienna, Austria

University of California Irvine
193 Ayala Science Library, Irvine, CA 92697

Universidad La Salle Victoria 
Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, México

Escuela de Enfermería-RCM-UPR 
Centro Mèdico, San Juan Puerto Rico

Fiji National University Derrick Library