One in two undergraduates would consider buying an assignment from an online essay bank if the price was right, a study suggests.
Dan Rigby, reader in environmental economics at the University of Manchester, questioned 90 students from three UK institutions, and asked them to consider eight scenarios in which they might choose to buy an essay.
Each scenario offered a different price, essay grade, percentage chance of being caught and severity of punishment.
Half of the students say they would buy an essay in at least one of the scenarios, with a small number saying they would do so every time.
There were no differences across the three universities, and personal ability appeared to have little impact on students' responses.
"It seems it's not a big ethical step for them to do this ... students are increasingly told to act as consumers and it becomes a decision around: 'I paid for this degree, I wanted a 2:1'," Dr Rigby said.
The paper, Students as Consumers: The Market for Essays, was presented at the Fourth International Plagiarism Conference at Northumbria University last week.