Prosecution of Cheating

Recent years have seen the emergence of individuals and online companies (colloquially termed ‘essay mills’) that offer bespoke assignment writing services to learners across all discipline areas and award types on the National Framework of Qualifications. The use of these services is known as contract cheating.

Commercial contract cheating services include paraphrasing services (to hinder counter-plagiarism tools such as TurnItIn), falsified work placement reports, research proposal writing services, and research and statistical data outsourcing services.


The facilitation of learner cheating is a threat to the integrity, standards and reputation of education and training. 

Section 43A of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Act makes it an offence to:

  • facilitate a learner to cheat in any way;
  • advertise cheating services to learners; and
  • publish advertisements for cheating services to learners.

QAA is responsible for bringing prosecutions under this section of the Act. Those convicted of an offence under Section 43A may receive a fine of up to £100,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to five years.

If you wish to report concerns about contract cheating or possible breaches of Section 43A of the Act, please contact QAA.

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