Contract Cheating

What is it?
Have you ever been in a public toilet and seen one of those makeshift signs that say, ‘Need an assignment writer? We can help!’? The chances are you have, as essay ghostwriters are on the rise and becoming more prevalent. What you were probably unaware of though, is that this is considered contract cheating and is one of the most serious forms of academic misconduct.

While this is considered a serious offence, unfortunately it’s still a thriving market and the figures supporting this are quite alarming. According to a survey that was conducted in over 8 Australian universities, results indicated 15% of people had bought, traded or sold notes and 27% of people had stated they had provided someone with a completed assignment in the past (Associate Professor Tracey Bretag, Dr Rowena Harper, n.d.).

Buying and selling pre-written assignments aren’t the only form of contract cheating. Contract cheating can still occur if you utilise an unauthorised editing service, accept help from another student/non-student, pay exam takers or use file-sharing sites.

How to avoid it?
In short, all work must be your own and any paid written assistance from another source is considered contract cheating and will leave you in very hot water.

What are the consequences of contract cheating?
If caught, the Director, Student Services will investigate the matter and recipient may be asked to attend a hearing where the student will need to make submissions to the university academic representatives as to why they have committed contract cheating. From there a committee comprised of the Chair, Academic Board (Chair), one member of the appropriate division, one member of another division and a Student Association Case Worker will determine whether the student should receive a penalty or not. If found to be guilty of contract cheating, the student may be asked to complete an equivalent alternative assignment – with or without penalty, fail the unit overall and in some cases, students may be dealt with a substitute, appropriate penalty depending on the circumstances.

International students studying at JCU Brisbane who are a recipient of any bursary/ scholarship also face the risk of losing these funds if found guilty. This is because the act of cheating is considered academic misconduct and is against the terms of conditions specifically stated on their bursary / scholarship money offer.

For more information on this please visit:

*- Associate Professor Tracey Bretag, Dr Rowena Harper, n.d., Contract cheating in Australian universities, Higher Ed Services, viewed on 30th January 2019, ><