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Google pulls essay adverts

Universities 'warmly welcome' ban

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From next month, ads selling essay writing services will join those punting prostitution or tobacco on Google's list of proscribed activities across its global network, the BBC reports.

The search monolith has responded to "claims that plagiarism is threatening the integrity of university degrees" and "complaints from universities about students being sold customised essays on the internet" by pulling the plug, and has written to companies flogging essays and dissertations to declare the new policy.

A spokesman for Universities UK admitted to "difficulties" with essays bought by students for up to £5,000 from companies offering tailor-made answers, with an estimated 12,000 a year being passed off as original scribblings, according to the organisation. Since these essays and assignments may be penned by freelance academics or other students, it's "less easy for plagiarism software used by universities to detect such work".

Universities UK's president Professor Drummond Bone said: "Plagiarism devalues the efforts of students who work hard to achieve their degrees. It also damages the student who commits plagiarism, as they will not benefit from the research and learning experience."

Unsurprisingly, essay writing companies are a little hacked off. The managing director of Essaywriter.co.uk, Matthew Wilson, is described as "angry" at the threat to his business, 80 per cent of which comes via Google. He claimed the clampdown will "punish the legitimate, transparent companies, which sell essays, but which warn students that they must not be used dishonestly".

He insisted that his site "makes clear that essays should not be passed off as being written by the student" and that the "tailor-made essays" can be used "as a guide for students wanting extra assistance".

Universities UK classified as "absurd" this claim that students would stump up "hundreds of pounds for model answers" and subsequently not "submit them as their own work".

Wilson concluded by noting the ban would not prevent Google from generating links to "rogue essay selling companies, which have been accused of scamming customers by providing poor quality material". ®

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