Honi Soit Writing Competition

New laws to punish contract cheating

The laws propose up to two years' imprisonment for those caught cheating

An image of bound Australian Law Reports

Draft legislation released by the Federal Government today will penalise anyone who provides or advertises contract cheating services with up to two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $210,000. The law comes amid a campus-wide campaign by the University of Sydney Union and the University against contract cheating.

The law defines contract cheating services broadly, including the provision of assistance with assignments and exams, or supplying any part of a piece of work that a student is required to complete.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan condemned academic cheating. “The Morrison Government is targeting the people who are making money exploiting Australia’s students,” said Mr Tehan.

A USyd submission to the Higher Education Standards Panel in March urged more expansive powers for TEQSA to address the weaknesses of comparable authorities in New Zealand.

Under the law, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) will be given the power to investigate and prosecute offenders, and disable access to websites promoting such services.

USyd’s submission also cited “significant concern” over international student participation in contract cheating.

“Chinese-language cheating services have been able to target students coming to us from China through WeChat and other Chinese social media platforms,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) Philippa Pattison in USyd’s submission.

In 2018, USyd traced potential breaches of academic integrity to three Chinese-language tutoring colleges. One of the colleges, Yingcredible, promoted its services by representing an affiliation with several Sydney-based universities, including USyd.

The proposed laws will not be debated until Parliament resumes for its Winter Session in early May.