Students and lecturers react to Bruton's plan to ban essay mills

Minister Bruton wants to clamp down on made-to-order essays and dissertations

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

Students and lecturers spoke to Newstalk Drive's Henry McKean about the implications of he legislation.

'A mockery of education'

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) lecturer Lynne Tracey, branded the practice as pointless.

"There's no learning," she said. "It makes a mockery of education if people are able to do that."

Ms Tracey said that often, it can be very difficult to differentiate the unique essays from the bought ones, as students who actively write essays invest weeks at a time in their work.

Leslie Shoemaker, Counselling Psychologist and DIT lecturer, questioned how the government is going to enforce the legislation.

"The other thing, some of the students, between working and college, they're driven to these desperate measures," she said.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is at the forefront of technology when it comes to spotting plagiarism.

However, Tom Molloy, Director of Office of Public Affairs and Communication at the college, said academics can usually spot plagiarism before it gets to that.

"If a student starts writing brilliant essays after writing pretty poor essays, you can look for the tell-tale signs," he said.

Minister Bruton's legislation is "innovative and forward thinking", according to Molloy.

"We're beginning to take the idea that it could become an industry, an export [...] that Ireland should be a centre of excellence for third-level education. 

What students are saying

Students were divided when it came to the service. 

Some acknowledged how stressful the college environment can be, understanding that that may be some students reasoning behind availing of the mills.

Others, however, said the risk in using the service is too big.

Additional reporting from Stephen McNeice