An Investigation into Contract Cheating in Tertiary Education, and How to Combat the Problem in a United Arab Emirates Context

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Andy Pacino


This review article investigated the pervasive problem that contract cheating presents in higher education in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and aimed to discover whether a solution could be found to combat the growing use of essay mills among students in the region. This literature review aimed to answer the following research questions; why do students use essay mills? Is current university student academic support adequate to facilitate branch campus learning at a level equivalent to a home campus? What methods can international branch campuses in the UAE employ to discourage the use of essay mills? What type and levels of services can universities provide in the future that better support students and stop them from becoming potential essay mill users?  The point of the research was to find a means by which students can be dissuaded from using contract cheating sites by becoming so well-supported, and so aware of the threat that contract cheating poses to the value of their degree, that essay mills become a much less attractive option. The study began with a look into the possible circumstances that lead a student to cheat, which includes exploring the fraud triangle theory, the peer behaviour theory, the planned behaviour theory, and the subsequent methodology used. The study found a variety of reasons students cheat, citing laziness, a lack of ability or adequate depth of academic vocabulary in a second language learner, peer pressure, that it is so easy and convenient to use such sites, and the fact that there is a promise of plagiarism free work with a click of a mouse and simple financial transaction (Clarke & Lancaster, 2013). Furthermore, online contract cheating presents a significant challenge for higher education institutes to keep a check on standards and quality assurance. Many teachers are either unaware of or simply afraid to follow up on instances of contract cheating for fear of recriminations in the form of poor feedback or possible student dropout rates.

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How to Cite
Pacino, A. . (2021). An Investigation into Contract Cheating in Tertiary Education, and How to Combat the Problem in a United Arab Emirates Context. Middle Eastern Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, 2(4), 120-135.