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Scam Alert - Contract Cheating

Scammers are targeting students to use illegal assignment writing services.

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Have you ever seen an advert on social media claiming that you can buy a piece of pre-written coursework to submit as your own?

Have you ever received a WhatsApp message from someone you do not know, claiming that they can write your assignment with you or provide you with essay writing assistance for a fee?

We are aware that several scams of this nature are circulating in the student community, particularly preying upon students at challenging times of the academic year.

Did you know that…

  • - It is not uncommon for these scammers to take payment and offer no service or product, or to pressurize students to make further payments.
  • - Purchasing pre-written assignments or using essay writing services counts as academic misconduct and is referred to as contract cheating.
  • - From April 2022, it became illegal to use or offer contract cheating services.
  • - Proven incidents of contract cheating can result in permanent exclusion from university.

The university defines contract cheating as…

“…when you arrange for help with an assessment such that there is reasonable doubt as to whose work the assessment represents, or you arrange for the assessment to be completed entirely by someone else and, in either case, then pass the work off as your own. Whilst contract cheating might involve buying either the whole or part of an assessment from, for example, a ‘cheat site’ such as an essay mill or auction site (e.g. the assignment is uploaded to a specialist website and people are asked to bid to write the assignment for you), it extends to input from a fellow student, friend, relative, or any other person, with or without payment of any kind.” (UPR AS14, appx 3, section 2.5, p.4)

Got a deadline looming?

Write what you can and seek help and support from either the Module Leader or Programme Leader via e-mail.

For future assignments, make a note of deadlines in your calendar and plan reminder notifications for when you are getting close. You can also make use of the academic skills support that is available either through your School or the wider University support services.

When you purchase an essay, and submit it as your own work, you are not only cheating academically but you could also be cheating yourself out of your place at University.

Want to request a coursework extension?  An extension is the "permission to hand in a piece of assessed work after the published hand-in date without incurring a penalty". Acceptance of extension requests are discretionary and you need to refer to your module or programme information to see which member of staff you need to make your coursework extension request to. 

Thinking of submitting Exceptional Circumstances?   Sometimes situations outside of your control can arise which can make it difficult to undertake your assessments.  If this happens, you may wish to make the University aware of your situation by submitting an Exceptional Circumstances request. It is strongly advisable, in the first instance, that you speak to either your Module Leader, Personal Tutor or Programme Leader about your circumstances. If you wish to apply for Exceptional Circumstances you must make your application via the "submit request" function on your online Student Record. Applications must be made, at the latest, within 5 working days of the Board of Examiners meeting. If your application is successful, you will likely be offered an opportunity to sit or submit the assessment at the next available assessment opportunity; to explore when that might be, it is important to speak to academic staff from your school. You can also read this help guide on Ask Herts for full details about the process and possible outcomes.

Have you been contacted by a UH student offering essay writing services? It is important to report this immediately via Report + Support, so that the university has the necessary information to investigate the matter fully. If you received the message on WhatsApp, hold your finger on the message to highlight it and then press the three dots on the top menu bar - then selecting “Report”.

Not sure what to do? Contact Hertfordshire Students' Union Advice & Support Team for confidential and impartial information and support. You can complete our online advice request form or e-mail For whatever student life throws at you, we're here to help!