The Government has passed legislation that makes it an offence to provide or advertise academic cheating services in higher education (often referred to in higher education circles as ‘contract cheating’).
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Contract cheating activity, if left unchecked, poses a significant threat to the integrity and reputation of Australia's higher education sector both domestically and internationally.
The new law is aimed at those who provide and advertise cheating services and not at students. Students who cheat will continue to be subject to institutions' own academic integrity policies, processes and academic sanctions. These institutional policies are not affected by the new law.
The offences and penalties the new law creates will apply whether the services are provided from within Australia or from overseas. Penalties of up to two years’ gaol and fines of up to $100,000 apply where the cheating service or advertising is for a commercial purpose. Civil fines up to $100,000 can apply where the cheating service is provided without remuneration.
An academic cheating service is defined as assistance to students that forms a substantial part of an assessment task that students are required to personally undertake. The new law applies to services that are provided, offered, arranged or advertised to higher education students undertaking an Australian course of study with an Australian higher education provider, or for an overseas course of study delivered at Australian premises.
A copy of the Bill that was passed by the Parliament and its Explanatory memorandum are available on the Australian Parliament House website.
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) will administer the new law, including taking out injunctions to block overseas cheating websites and pursuing prosecutions, intelligence gathering and an educative role to help providers develop prevention strategies.
TEQSA has been allocated additional funding to undertake these functions. Further information on TEQSAs activities to support academic integrity is available.
Comments on the draft new law were sought from all interested stakeholders during its development.
Advice of the Higher Education Standards Panel
The Government released the advice of the Higher Education Standards Panel on tackling contract cheating, along with the Government's response to that advice, on 18 December 2018. 29 submissions were received.