By Chris York
A website offering a student essay-writing service has been ordered to stop promoting cheating by the UK advertising watchdog.
Oxbridge Essays was accused of misleadingly implying that students could submit a piece of work they bought as their own.
The homepage of its website made claims such as “it has never been easier to get the grades you wanted” and “First class? 2:1? No problem”.
Customers were charged according to the length, target grade and turnaround of the essay with a one-day, first-class, 2,000-word undergraduate essay in English literature costing £1,045, reports The Times.
The Oxbridge Research Group Ltd which owns Oxbridge Essays insisted that they stated across the website that the work purchased by consumers as a “personalised study guide” should not be handed in directly.
But a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the claims should be removed “to ensure that their website did not misleadingly imply that students could submit purchased essays as their own without risks”.
It said: “We considered that the information that Oxbridge Essays’ products were model template essays, which consumers would need to further personalise and should not submit as their own because it would be considered cheating.”
It also ruled that a claim that “the vast majority of our writers have studied or taught at the UK’s two best universities, Oxford and Cambridge” was misleading because at least one in three was not.
Oxbridge Essays has sold over 70,000 essays and buying one is not illegal but the ruling from the ASA is just the latest in an apparent crackdown on the practice.
Last year the ASA ruled online adverts for UK Essays gave a “misleading impression” and did not make clear the risks linked to submitting bought essays.
UK Essays said that neither it or its website indicated at any point that essays bought from it were intended to be handed in by customers to their own education centre, and that if it was providing an essay service intended to be submitted as a student’s work then it would be necessary to warn of the risks of doing so – such as plagiarism and academic misconduct.
Upholding the complaint, the ASA said: “We considered the ad gave an overall impression that consumers would be able to submit the purchased essays as their own, particularly because of the anti-plagiarism and grade guarantees.
“We considered that consumers would understand from the website that they could purchase an essay of a particular grade that was plagiarism-free, and that they would be able to make a claim under the refund guarantee if they submitted the essay and did not receive the grade ordered, or if the essay was found to be plagiarised.”