Education

New contract cheating laws cast a wide net

Helping friends and students on university assignments could soon be punishable if the Federal Government passes its new “contract cheating” legislation.

Contract cheating is a term used to describe students outsourcing assessable work to third parties.

People found guilty of providing third-party services could face fines of $210,000 or two years in prison.

Providing third party help on University assessments could soon be a criminal offence.
Photo: Amy Johnston.

Universities Australia policy director Mike Teece said there are major concerns with the drafted bill.

“We welcome legislation against contract cheating but we are weary about drafting it so broadly that the net catches all kind of people who aren’t criminals,” he said.

“Anyone who helps one of their friends, even in a small way like a university assignment, would be guilty of providing contact cheating.

“That seems pretty extreme to us, and not in the spirit of what was intended.

“A consequence of drafting it so broadly as the exposure draft has been is that it may prove to be less workable than it should be.”

Contract cheating has become more common in Australia.
Graphic: Amy Johnston.

Claremont Academic Clinics for Exceptional Students Inc. tutor Clea Sanders says this new legislation could threaten her job security.

The new legislation means tutoring services could be guilty of a ‘contract cheating’ offence.
Video: Amy Johnston

Universities Australia CEO Mohan Dhall said the Federal Government should consider defining the legislation to recognise tutoring.

“There is a grey area of what constitutes support, and this needs to be detailed,” he said.

He said universities need measures in place to assess external work and change the way students complete assessments to avoid contract cheating.

“Sometimes universities get lazy and rely on software to do a job for them when something more is required,” he said.

Turnitin has its limitations, because it’s the interpretation of what’s used and how that’s actually important.

Universities Australia CEO Mr Tecce said students need to protect themselves when offering help to others.

“I think the concerns outlined will weigh heavily on the mind of students,” he said.

 “You might think twice about talking to your friends, fellow students, members of your family to seek assistance.”

Listen here to the extended interview with Australian Tutors’ Association CEO Mohan Dhall.

Mohan Dhall said universities should be taking more action to prevent contact cheating. Audio: Amy Johnston.