Education Minister announces plan to outlaw 'essay mills'

New legislation aims to stop people buying customised academic essays or dissertations

Education Minister announces plan to outlaw 'essay mills'

Richard Bruton. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Education Minister is looking to clamp down on 'essay mills' that are selling work to third-level students.

It will be made an offence under new draft laws aimed at cutting down on cheating in higher education.

They are modeled on legislation from New Zealand, and designed to stop people buying customised academic essays or dissertations.

Richard Bruton says the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Amendment) Bill is part of efforts to make the Irish education service "the best in Europe within a decade".

The bill will give more powers to the higher education regulator - Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) - and introduce a fund to support students finishing their studies if their college closes.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Bruton explained: "One of the issues obviously has to be the robustness of the systems to protect standards. This is going to get tough on academic cheating.

"Software can detect plagiarism if people are copying big tracts, but if there's an essay mill which writes customised essays then it's much harder to track that. This is about outlawing that and clamping down on those who would offer such a service."

He added: "You'll remember a couple of years ago where a number of language schools closed and left people high-and-dry.

"That's an issue that we can't have if we want to attract more foreign students."