The BBC has discovered the sleazy market for student essays. The only surprise to me was the claim that most customers were overseas students ‘need[ing] "professional help" to compete with British students’.
While the availability of free information on the web can seem a cheat’s charter, the accuracy of the Google index makes it easy to spot plagiarism from online sources. (I thought my title was clever: it may be, but I find it’s certainly not original.) Bespoke essays written by someone other than the student pose a new challenge: we’d need to return to the individual tutorial or ‘viva voce’ to get around that with certainty.
Later: this interview in Education Guardian addresses the issue of plagiarism and contains the good advice to change assignment topics frequently to avoid the ‘essay bank’ problem.