University students will need to ditch dodgy practices after the higher education watchdog blocked a range of “ruthless” academic cheating websites.
Australia’s university regulator, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), has for the first time used new special protocols to prevent access to the most-visited cheating sites.
The 40 websites blocked by the regulator were visited about 450,000 times a month, Education Minister Jason Clare said.
“Illegal cheating services threaten academic integrity and expose students to criminals who often attempt to blackmail students into paying large sums of money,” he said in a statement.
Cheating websites are used to sell student essays or assignments or accept payment for someone to sit exams on a student’s behalf.
“Blocking these websites will seriously disrupt the operations of the criminals behind them.”
Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson praised the money, saying “contract cheating” threatened “the integrity and operation of a university education.”
“It is bad for universities and students, and any action to stop these ruthless outlets is a good thing,” she said.
It’s the first time the regulator has used new protocols it developed with the communications industry and internet service providers to stop people from accessing cheating services.
The protocols streamline the process for blocking illegal sites and allow the regulator to enforce Australia’s anti-commercial academic cheating laws.
Laws introduced in 2020 made providing cheating services on a commercial level a criminal offense. Those found in breach face two years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $111,000.
The laws also allow the Federal Court to force carriage service providers to block access to such cheating services.