Students are offering private tutors thousands to sit online exams for them

One tutor was reportedly paid £3,000 for a dissertation

With the move to online exams by unis due to Covid restrictions, private tutors are now reporting being offered thousands to sit online exams on behalf of students.

Naomi Wilson, a private economics tutor, told The Tab since last summer she’s been getting requests from students offering £250-300 per individual exam, with rates “going into the thousands for dissertations”.

Yet she says she’s always turned them down and reported these instances of cheating to universities.

Naomi says: “It’s not people coming to you with 10 quid and a plea, it’s people with serious money that could make a very big difference.

“The inequality and injustice of it all makes me more angry because it’s a lot of rich people trying to buy their way out of problems.”

Messages sent to Naomi by university students

One student’s message asked: “Was curious if you’re familiar with International Economics and if I sent the exam over on the day (10:00am), you could provide answers for this?”

Messages sent to Naomi by university students

Other messages promise to spend £250 for an online exam.

Naomi said she knows another private tutor who accepted an offer of £3,000 to write someone’s dissertation.

She said: “It’s very expensive to have principles. It’s very difficult to say no when you know someone else will do it.

“It’s a lot of money to say no to, so I can see why people think ‘well if I don’t do it someone else will.'”

Messages sent to Naomi by university students

One message offered that if a tutor could help them with an exam they could then pay to hire them for three further exams.

Naomi believes there’s always been a market for writing coursework and essays but believes problems created by the pandemic has caused “the market for exams”, too.

She doesn’t think the solution to these issues are as simple as it may seem. She said: “You’ve got maybe 180 students, who you haven’t met and know very little about because of the pandemic. So how would you ever know?

“People assume there’s just some technology that can sort it out but it’s not as simple as that. Some students are taking advantage of an institution that is scrambling because of the pandemic.”

Naomi believes one solution could be to move away from standardised testing: “I do believe the pandemic could’ve been a fantastic opportunity to reevaluate how we assess students.

“This obsession with standardised testing has so many problems and this has highlighted just one of them.”

Messages sent to Naomi by university students

Naomi has reported instances of student’s attempting to cheat to universities such as Brunel and LSE.

A spokesperson for LSE said: “LSE takes plagiarism and academic misconduct very seriously and will carry out investigations into all allegations received.

“All work submitted by students is expected to be completely their own. Any involvement of essay mills or third parties to write, edit, or proofread assessed work is strictly prohibited. Any students who use such services are at risk of severe penalties, up to and including expulsion from the School.”

A Brunel spokesperson said: “We take a hard line where allegations of cheating are found to be proved, as it represents a threat to academic standards and integrity. We investigate any such allegations, including of contract cheating, using our academic misconduct procedure.

“Where possible, we are taking additional steps to prevent cheating, such as detection measures to identify sources of academic dishonesty.

“Last week a private tutor raised concerns with us, which were immediately escalated within the academic department. Our investigation is ongoing. We are not aware of any similar concerns raised to the university by other private tutors.”

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