In August 2020 Australia cracked down on contract cheating by legislating new criminal offences to target the practice.

What is contract cheating?

Contract cheating includes different types of behaviours in which a student outsources their course work, or contracts it out, to another person or business.

The Australian Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency defines contract cheating as happening:

…when students outsource their assessments to a third party, whether that is a commercial provider, current or former student, family member or acquaintance. It includes the unauthorised use of file-sharing sites, as well as organising another person to take an examination

TEQSA website

What are the new laws on contract cheating?

The new laws make it a criminal offence for any one to provide or advertise commercial academic cheating services in relation to the delivery of higher education in Australia. The penalty is 2 years in prison or a fine of A$111,000, or both.

Working for student websites – contract cheating risks

On 29 April 2021 TEQSA issued advice to students about employment opportunities with online study platforms and contract cheating.

It said:

There has been large growth in online study platforms in recent years. 

TEQSA is concerned some of these websites may promote, enable or supply academic cheating services (also known as contract cheating).

Under Australia’s anti-cheating laws, the promotion or sale of academic cheating services is illegal and subject to penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment or fines of up to $110,000.

TEQSA has become aware some of these websites are seeking to employ students to promote their services through on-campus activities and events.

There is a risk that students employed to promote a website could face criminal penalties if the website is found to be breaking Australian law.

TEQSA website

What can you do?

TEQSA advised students to take the following steps:

  • If you are offered a job to promote a company on-campus to other students, you should speak with your educational institution first to determine if the company is permitted to operate on campus.
  • Make sure you understand academic integrity and Australia’s anti-cheating laws
  • Never share your work online, as it may be sold by cheating services to other students.
  • Do not buy or sell essays, assignments or other assessments online. This is a breach of academic integrity and selling these services is illegal under Australian law.