Whistleblowers: 'Ghostwriter' unfazed

November 30, 2001

A former university lecturer who sells essays and dissertations to university students over the internet is undeterred by the outcry that followed The THES 's report on her activities.

The THES first reported in September that Elizabeth Hall, a former senior lecturer at the University of Central England, was advertising her "ghostwriting" services on the internet.

"Anything you need - for your eyes only," her site says. She sells her services for £35 an hour, for degree-level work, up to £45 for PhD-level work.

But despite the furore following The THES expose, including calls for her service to be shut down, Ms Hall is unrepentant. Students who now approach Ms Hall are made to sign a disclaimer, declaring that they understand that the material provided by her "is a guidance model only" and "the final decision to submit any work is (the student's) alone".

However, last week she explained to an undercover THES contributor, who posed as a student, that the disclaimer was "purely to protect myself since all the recent press publicity".

"Of course, once the work is in your hands, it is your property and you are free to do with it as you wish," she said.

The contributor had made clear: "I really would like to pay someone to take over the whole of the written side (of my degree course) for me. Cost is no problem, but I am terrified of confidentiality, and having my degree taken from me."

Ms Hall, claiming she wrote every essay for an entire degree course for a student who obtained a first-class degree, replied: "This you need not concern yourself with, as I offer absolute confidentiality."

Ms Hall, who was dismissed from the university five years ago, says she left of her own volition during a legal dispute, and declined to comment.

York St John loses disability appeal
York St John College has failed a second attempt to quash a disability discrimination claim against it.

The THES reported in June last year that when faced with allegations of discrimination from disabled lecturer Claire Hobbs, the college ignored its earlier unequivocal acknowledgement of her disability and attempted to argue that she was not disabled after all.

The college had been claiming financial support for Ms Hobbs, who has muscular problems, under the Access to Work scheme for disabled people before saying she was not disabled.

In a unanimous decision, the Leeds employment tribunal ruled that Ms Hobbs is disabled within the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act. This week the employment appeal tribunal threw out the college's appeal against the decision.

Ms Hobbs's claims, supported by lecturers' union Natfhe, will now be heard in full. Since she initially complained, she has added a further claim alleging she has been victimised for raising her concerns.

A college spokeswoman said: "The EAT has clarified a point which needed to be sorted for both parties, relating to the interpretation of the meaning of disability."

Lecturers support dismissed colleague
Lecturers at Canterbury Christ Church University College have called for an independent inquiry into the dismissal of a colleague for the alleged sexual harassment of a student.

The college's branch of lecturers' union Natfhe has passed a motion claiming the college treated its agreed disciplinary procedures with contempt when it decided to dismiss the lecturer, whom The THES has agreed not to name until the case is resolved. The union says he should be reinstated and has declared itself in an official industrial dispute with the college.

College principal Michael Wright admitted to staff that procedure was breached when, during the disciplinary process, "reference was inappropriately made to a previous warning" given to the dismissed lecturer.

But he has refused to reinstate the member of staff because "the decision has been upheld by a panel of governors in accordance with the disciplinary procedure". He has also refused an inquiry, as it "would be a disproportionate response to the issue and I cannot accept that this is necessary". He has assured staff "of the governing body's complete commitment to ensuring that all employment policies and procedures are agreed and implemented in an open, fair and consistent manner". He has offered to hold talks with Natfhe's national officers, or to bring in the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

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