This article is more than 5 years old

Cheater, cheatier, cheatiest – a particularly sleazy uni ranking

Paul Greatrix - who is against essay mills and a fan of preposterous rankings - has just seen a new ranking from an essay mill. Brace brace.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Over the years here we’ve covered some really poor university league tables and some rather strange and incomprehensible rankings too.

Some of these are really crude promotional devices for companies simply looking for profile in the higher education market and not to be taken remotely seriously. Others have grander aspirations but still lack credibility.

Some though plumb extraordinary depths in their attempt to promote their services. One of the most appalling such examples is a company which seeks to recruit female students to provide company to older men for money. Every year it publishes a ‘ranking’, which looks entirely fictitious, of the universities where it claims the largest number of students have signed up for its services. Every year this league table is reproduced unquestioningly by a number of news outlets for whom this salacious ranking concept is somehow irresistible. It makes the Wetherspoon’s ranking look pretty methodologically robust.

Things can only get worse

I thought things couldn’t get worse than this in the rankings stakes but then an essay mill, a company which profits from exploiting students vulnerabilities and supports cheating in higher education, decided that it needed to produce a ranking. Yes, they produced a league table to show which subjects enjoyed the highest level of cheating and which parts of the country had the most cheats.

I’ve written here before about essay mills and why they are such a malign influence in our sector. They are corrupting, cynical and exploitative, preying on vulnerable students and exploiting their anxieties for profit. Although they usually do advise students not to submit purchased work as their own, it can be difficult to find their anti-cheating notices.

In reality these companies exist primarily to do the one thing they claim they are not there to do: to help students cheat. All of them present themselves as if they are providing model answers to help with revision but their primary purpose is actually something they say they should not be used for, i.e. submitting work as if it were your own.

Well, who knows if they did all this work themselves or if they bought it from someone else and submitted it as their own but here it is, a ranking of the cheatiest subjects produced by one of the cheating companies and reproduced in the Tab.

Heartwarming stuff. Not only this, they also record where the biggest demand for cheating assistance comes from:


You could also view this as the company’s profit map, the places where they make the most money by exploiting students’ vulnerabilities. Again, just charming.

These essay mills are parasitical operations, which exploit those who write essays to order as well as those who pay to be helped to cheat, and they have no place in our sector. The sooner we can ban them the better. #BanEssayMills

Anyway, if you thought league tables were damaging our sector, combining them with the tawdry essay mill profiteers just about gives you the biggest sleazy higher ed combo you could imagine. Happy days.

Leave a Reply