An online essay mill that claimed to provide a “guaranteed grade, every time” has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for “misleading” statements on its website.
In what has been hailed as a “landmark ruling”, the advertising watchdog upheld two complaints about UK Essays lodged by the Quality Assurance Agency.
On its website, UK Essays claimed to provide a “guaranteed grade, every time”, adding that its work is “loved by customers and the global press”.
However, the QAA, which campaigns against contract cheating, challenged UK Essays, stating that the web advertising is misleading because it does not make sufficiently clear the risks associated with submitting purchased essays.
It also said that the company’s references to press coverage from the BBC, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times misleadingly imply that UK Essays has received positive coverage or endorsement from those press outlets.
The ASA has upheld both challenges, stating that the advert breached its code around misleading advertising.
“We told UK Essays to ensure that their website did not misleadingly imply that students could submit purchased essays as their own that would meet the ordered grade without risks,” the ASA ruling concludes.
Times Higher Education was unable to reach UK Essays for a comment. However, in its response to the ASA, it said that “neither they nor their website at any point indicated that essays purchased from them were to be handed in by the customers to the education centre they attended”.
UK Essays also stated that it had a “fair use policy” which “fully explained...that students could not submit the purchased essay as their own”, the ASA reported.
The watchdog also found the quotes from media outlets that were “positive in nature” were misleading, with one taken from an episode of the BBC’s Fake Britain programme.
Ian Kimber, the QAA’s director of academic standards, said the “landmark ruling” was the “the first successful challenge to [an essay mill’s] claims of legitimacy, exposing their cynical use of anti-plagiarism disclaimers and exploitative media referencing”.
“Essay mills mislead students and put their academic and professional careers at risk,” he said, adding that the QAA would “continue to campaign for academic integrity, supporting both students and higher education providers in identifying and tackling cheating and other abuses”.
“This case helps to spread the message that cheating, in any form, is unacceptable,” said Mr Kimber.