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Companies claim that they are providing students only with ‘research guides’. Photograph: Alamy Students who buy essays online are being ripped off, according to a report published this week by exam regulator Ofqual.

The work they purchase is written by “relatively competent writers”, but who have an “almost universal ignorance of the scope of the work” and an “utter lack of in-depth analysis”. I worked for two of these companies, both from home and “in-house”, which at one point saw 15 of us crammed into the boss’s attic. Ofqual’s researchers paid up to £220 for essays, but only a fraction of that money goes to the actual writer, who can earn as little as £24 for every 1,000 words.

To earn a reasonable rate, a writer needs to finish at least an essay a day 6 Mar 2017 - It takes about three minutes to order a final dissertation for an English literature degree at the UK Essays website. All of this would be totally legal and, the owners of UK Essays insist, ethical, too – because what “Our essays … are the best, most useful study aid in the world,” says Daniel Dennehy, chief .

How to make your coursework as good as it can possibly be

Despite the fees, the companies contend that they don’t produce “essays” to be handed in at all. Clients buy “research guides” to inspire their own work, in the same way that your Amsterdam souvenirs say “For Tobacco Use Only” on them.

But it covers the company: if you hand in your “2:1 Guaranteed” essay and it gets a 2:2, you have already breached your contract by submitting it. That means for the writer, the game is to hit the word count as quickly as possible. As long as it looks like an essay, the actual words matter very little.

Always give the counterpoint, no matter how weak: the words “on the other hand” are your new best friend. If you don’t have time to check citations, make them up! If the client can’t be bothered to read a book, he’s not going to check your page numbers.

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At another company, if you could write on one subject, this qualified you to write on anything. A law graduate would end up doing revision notes on Chinese political history, eventually writing a PhD proposal for an economics student and wondering how they got there.

I once wrote a Market Research BA dissertation in two days and heard nothing more of it.

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“We’re making up for universities’ failings,” they’d say.

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