Desperate finalists forking out thousands to have essays written for them
A 2:1 in your dissertation will cost you £3,000
Your eyelids droop and your heart sinks. Six weeks of blissful procrastination have caught up with you, there’s 2,000 words to be done on cultural imperialism, and you’ve only got five hours to finish them.
Welcome to third year, when deadlines actually matter, and dreams of a grad scheme slip away as you just can’t cope with the demands of your course any more. It’s no wonder more and more anguished undergrads are forking out huge chunks of their loan to have professionals write their essays for them. And why wouldn’t they, when there’s the tempting offer of someone with a Masters, or higher, not only writing your essay, but doing any necessary research, referencing, and even attempting to mimic your writing style?
The world of ghost written essays is rising, with one company – British Essay Writer – claiming to have “dozens” of students signing up a day. Their website boasts over 10,000 completed orders, 450 active writers pining to take on your work, and nearly a 100 per cent satisfaction rate. They proudly display their testimonials in a side bar, just in case you were still unsure whether or not they could deliver the standard you require.
One review, from Joshua Knowles in London, said: “Let me start by saying thank you for professionalism. I was so close to panic. Luckily, I ended up ordering my dissertation proposal from you. I didn’t think I could trust this assignment to someone else but me. But since I was running out of time, I decided to go with my instincts and I was right. Thank you for superior writing piece.”
Purchasing a ghost written piece is fairly easy for anyone willing to hand over their bank details. Simply filling in a form will get you a fairly hefty price quotation. British Essay Writer offer a 2,000 word essay written to 2:1 standard for around £220. A 10,000 word dissertation from the same site would cost just over £3,000.
When I enquired about having an essay written and how to go about it, British Essay Writer said: “Fill out our order form first, and tell us how many pages you want, your academic level, subject, topic and type of work. Then once you fill out the instructions and submit the order, we start looking for the writer. The file will be uploaded to the personal profile, which is created for you when the order is submitted.”
Each customer has a writer hand picked depending on the topic, and you can even specify which works you’d like to be referenced. Some companies allow you to speak online with the essay writer, while others exchange samples to allow for changes to be made. If you’ve ordered well in advance, you can request changes to be made to your work, and if you’ve left if right to the last minute, some offer same day delivery. A 2,000 essay, completed in six hours, is a whopping £480. But once everything has been paid and settled, the paper is in the customer’s hands, and they can do with it what they want.
Ghost writing companies, or Unique Content Agencies as they preferred to be known, vary in how they recommend you use their products. Acad Write told us: “Technically, we say we provide an example, and you should still do your own work with it.” They make customers sign a disclaimer saying the essay will not be published as their own work, but the employee spoken to then admitted: “Once you’ve paid for it, we do not have any control. Once you’ve paid for it, it’s yours.” During a recent Reddit AMA, company CEO Thomas Nemet said: “I see my position similar to that of an arms manufacturer. They are also not responsible for what people do with their product. It’s supply and demand.”
British Essay Writer and Royal Essays were much less guarded in their answers, both offering an explicit “yes” as to whether or not the written piece could be submitted as a student’s own work. But the companies asked also refused to guarantee the grade paid for would be the one received by the student. They said this is because of the subjective nature of marking, and companies allow for customers to suggest their own revisions to the paper.
Although the practice is banned in many universities (the University of Liverpool say it will lead to termination of studies or suspension if caught), this doesn’t deter companies from explicit advertising. In 2014, ghost writing agencies even handed out business cards at Liverpool. But what is the risk of being caught? In theory, it would be difficult for Turnitin to spot a ghost written essay, as the material is not plagiarised. Acad Writing added: “We guarantee it’s unique. We run all our checks through the same check as your university.”
Reasoning behind an individual deciding to purchase material is often assumed to be down to laziness, incapability or both. But these companies have clients with a whole range of reasons approaching them. Acad Writing added: “You shouldn’t feel guilty in submitting a ghost written essay. Sometimes life comes in the way. We see it all the time that either someone gets sick, or family gets sick, or they have to work a full-time job to finance their studies. There are so many reasons why.”
While this may not offer an excuse, it shows those who purchase are not necessarily the malicious cheats portrayed. Universities have not always been the most malleable when it comes to impossible deadlines or negotiating personal circumstances, and at the end of the day this is a business which exists for market reasons, rather than out of necessity. And it’s not going anywhere…