Cheap labour is one thing. Cheap intellectual labour is quite another. Because when you can 'afford' a highly educated person to write your course work and essays that were supposed to give you insights into the subject you are studying, the loss of having made a 'cheap' deal with someone across continents is, really, yours and your own doing.
This disturbing trend is something that has been in the making for quite a while. Scores of students every year outsource writing jobs, like essays or mission statement, or a thesis to someone sitting in a distant country, for a small cost. And the time saved thus, helps the student either have more fun, post more pics of 'feeling excited' on social networking sites, tweet, or simply work harder at small jobs to make their ends meet. After all, in this complex environment of education, studying is the hardest thing to do. Writing is even a tougher nut to crack.
Where do students find these little distant helpers? Online, of course! If students can find ways to share a picture, post comments, make observations, catch up on a film, or meet at a bar to work or drink; internet provides them with immense potential to also find someone who can do their course work for them for a nominal fee. Now, didn't we teach them time is money?
There are dedicated essay writing websites for the job, and agencies with just virtual presence in so many countries that the menace is simply hard to be pinned down. The agencies that work as 'pick-up points' for such course work either deal with freelance assignments for writers or subject experts in various fields who are willing to take up such jobs for money, and have the efficiency to meet quick turn-around timeframes. And what's more even dating sites tend to have information regarding academic writers who are 'available' to finish the job while on the go!
The problem is not restricted to a single country or a course. It is widespread and has almost touched schools too, even in countries like India where the writing jobs seem to be landing. Most of the third world countries, with English being their medium of instruction have really risen to the challenge. So, when a student, whether foreign or a local one, sitting in some university in UK wants to spend a free weekend or wants to slog it out at a local store or bar making extra bucks to meet the expenses; there's always a helping hand that can do his assignments for a 'nominal' cost - somewhere few thousands of miles away.
Economically too, students have expressed it makes great sense for them to get the job outsourced for the amount that's gonna cost them much lesser than the time they would have to spend doing the assignment. Whether it is English literature, or Business Plan, or Psychology, or Humanities or Sciences - help is just a click away.
But, cut to reality that's not too evident. Charges of plagiarism. When a 40,000 words assignment gets written somewhere in Pakistan or India, chances are the student will never go through it before submitting. And even if he/she does, there would be too less a time to go through the whole document to fit it into the context or make necessary chances. Money being paid, the student submits it to discover the paragraphs are an exact match of someone else's assignment or have been copied from someone's lifelong work. Result is much more damaging than just losing marks.
Parents' role in such cases comes directly under scrutiny and will be questioned time and again over the commitment and involvement. It is not easy being a parent these days, while the generation is dealing with such compounded problems and challenges. While technology surges ahead, parents are at a loss about tracking their children's inclinations or activities because it simply becomes impossible.
Value based education seems to be the only way out of this mess which shows all signs of being deeply engrained in the psyche of tomorrow's students; much to the extent of compromising on the quality of professors and subject experts we would be seeing in the near future.
Though the problem is the much easier one to deal with, on a scale of ethics, and integrity; the issue is much greater than that. It is not just about students deciding to palm it off for more time and less money. It is about understanding the fact that higher education is becoming out of bounds for students within countries like US and UK and thus the students see the need to meet their educational expenses by forsaking their education time over handing out their assignments to a stranger.