Dodgy Dissertations

The Tab speaks to a Cambridge grad with first hand experience of working for Oxbridge Essays.

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Questions have often been raised about the ethical side of companies like Oxbridge Essays, but The Tab has discovered that they can also be pretty unpleasant to anyone unfortunate enough to work for them.

Our source graduated from Downing in 2008 and signed up to Oxbridge Essays while searching for a job. She was asked for a first-class Geography dissertation and had to provide all the elements of the dissertation in two separate instalments.

The first section was required 5 days after the request email. She knew what subject the dissertation was based on, but was expected to supply the title and the hypothesis.

She was given two weeks to write a first-class essay of 15,000 words, from the day that she received an emailed asking if she was interested.

The company make a substantial mark-up by offering their workers only a small percentage of an essay’s sale price. Our source’s essay would sell for £3,180 (a quote obtained from their website), and she was offered just £300 for the job.

The website’s Delegations Department Manager wrote in the first email that the pay was negotiable. However, when our source questioned her pay, she received this slightly bizarre response:

“I am confounded as to why you replied to an offer of work with such coarse and petulant disrespect. The tone of your message paints you as a gobby vulgarian and thoroughly unpleasant — or is this just perhaps your particular style?

“It would clearly behoove you to supplement your academic education with the learning of some manners and basic professional etiquette. This may be a new region of study for you and we would be more than happy to provide some elementary starting places.”

Employee-bashing aside, the ethical problems with the site are indeed well-documented.

On their website, Oxbridge Essays offer their spin on why you should use their services. They argue: “Ordering a model essay or dissertation does not make you a cheat. In fact, it usually shows that you are a hard-working and conscientious student.”

Experts, however, do not see the positive side to the site.

Dr Tim Burton, the Assistant Director of the Quality Assurance Agency, was adamant that students shouldn’t need to use a company like Oxbridge Essays. He told The Tab: “Universities provide appropriate opportunities and resources to support students in their studies.

“If students decide to buy extra tuition from a private source, they have a clear responsibility to ensure any work they submit for assessment is their own. To employ an agency or individual to produce essays or other assessed work and to pass this off as their own work is completely unacceptable.”

A spokesperson for the University of Cambridge also condemned those who use Oxbridge Essays. “We would strongly disapprove of present or former students writing essays for other people, or using essays written by others.

“Not only is it cheating, or complicit with cheating, but it goes against the entire purpose of a university education, which is to develop one’s own ideas and skills, not buy them in from elsewhere. Cambridge students, in any case, have very heavy workloads and writing essays for other people would inevitably put their own progress at risk.”

The Oxbridge Research Group (TORG) say that their “academic expertise is of the highest possible quality” and that clients “will have complete peace of mind knowing that the academic work that you commission will be written by some of the UK’s leading academics”.

We asked the Product Director of TORG, Stratos Malamatinas, to comment on whether the company were misleading customers with their product. He declined to address any of our accusations, instead criticising The Tab’s direct approach.

Mr Malatinas was, however, kind enough to suggest how we might improve our journalistic practice in the future:

“If in future you wish to elicit proper replies from people, then: (a) learn some fucking manners, (b) slough the struttling and adolescently righteousness tone — people who speak with this type of arrogant petulance are laughed at in most real-worldly places outside of Oxford and Cambridge, (c) take a basic journalism course so that you can inquire into matters with editorial integrity and professionalism, rather than the naïve butchery below.”