By Emily Halverson

Last year, 17 AFL players were served a one-year ban from the 2016 Premiership Season for doping at Essendon Football Club. This year the disciplined players are back enjoying footy, with very heathy pay checks to prove their return.

The World Anti-Doping Agency says across the world, many athletes are cheating. And some of the largest banks in the world have trillions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts. Australia Post, 7-Eleven and other multi-billion corporations have been found cheating their staff. Coles and Woolworths are in angst over customers cheating the system at their ever-expanding self-serve check-outs.

Coles and Woolworths know all too well how easily people are willing to abandon their integrity and cheat the system. Image by Emily Halverson

Cheating is a universal flaw we have all come to accept in society. So why do we expect university students to behave any differently?

Recent inquiries into the high numbers of cheating in Australian universities have inspired educators to start a conversation about academic integrity. Queensland University of Technology’s associate director of Learning and Teaching Innovation, Sheona Thomson, says cheating is a peer-influenced movement.

“It has been shown by research that if there’s a perception that other people are doing it and getting away with it, then [others think they] may as well have a go,” she said.

“Every time people look into this situation, through anonymous surveys… large percentages of students admit that they have done it at least once.”

Industry professionals and student services are sympathetic to students who feel the pressure to seek fraudulent ways of passing. QUT Guild’s vice president of gender and sexuality, Isobella Powell, blames the strain of juggling study with jobs.

“Students don’t just study – they also work a lot – so when they get caught up in stress, they don’t really understand the implications of their actions a lot of the time.

“They just think, “It’s easy, I’ll get the assessment done.””

Ms Thomson says international research found the large majority of students caught cheating are from the Law and Engineering faculties.

But when we took to campus to ask students about their cheating habits, all were quick to deny.

“I’m doing Law, so I’d lose everything,” said one student, Bec, who was also adamant she had not witnessed any kind of cheating in her degree.

Another student, Matthew, also frowned upon our question. “I’m an engineering student, so I need to know how to do everything, not just the answer.”

But preliminary findings from a survey of staff and students in higher education indicates that one in seven people have bought, sold or traded notes. Online in an anonymous environment, students are more willing to admit they would indulge in the practice of “contract cheating”, where assignments are outsourced then submitted as one’s own.

One anonymous student said, “I wouldn’t think twice about cheating because a better mark would be worth it. People cheat all the time so why not? Uni is just about making it through your degree.”

Students will admit anonymously to cheating. Via Facebook

Another simply said, “Obviously.”

Contract cheating is so easily accessible that students do not have to be crafty when finding ways to swindle the system. My Assignment Help is an online site that will fix you up with a quote instantly. Simply send your details and they are ready to help you achieve your highest mark yet.

Enter your assignment and due date and My Assignment Help will instantly send you a quote.

Students are also turning to sites like Air Tasker and selling off essays for as little as $12 a pop. The site even maps people looking for help with assignments in your local radius.

Air Tasker allows you to buy or sell your assignments.

When cheating is so easily accessible, who’s there to stop students from subcontracting their assignments? It is not like society is condemning cheating in any real manner. Simply ask the managers at your local supermarket…