Oxford students are selling their notes for money to GradeGuru.com, a note sharing website, where other students can then download the notes for free.
The website claims to have contributions from 281 academic institutions in the UK and offers students cash compensations for uploading their notes.
It describes itself as “a platform for students to help each other with coursework” which will encourage “all students everywhere to achieve their best and to inspire others to academic heights.”
Although the website claims to be a place where students can just find course notes, some of the material that Oxford students have uploaded includes full essays on Shakespeare.
As the material on GradeGuru is free, there is nothing to stop any student taking one of these essays and claiming it as their own.
This makes it different from other essay sharing websites such as Oxbridge Essays. An undergraduate essay from there can cost around £1000, and a full PhD dissertation could cost over £20,000.
A spokesperson for the University said that websites like this would not be helpful to students in the long run.
She said, “if students simply copy the work of others, they are missing part of the learning process and may fare badly when they come to sit formal examinations.”
She added that copying in weekly essays would be dealt with at a college level, but during exams plagiarism is taken very seriously by the University.
“Cheating in University examinations or in coursework that counts towards the degree is of course a very much more serious matter. That would be referred to the Proctors”
The website denies that it will encourage cheating, stating that “GradeGuru stands against plagiarism in all its potential forms”. It added, “Students have long been confronted with opportunities to plagiarize and infringe copyright law” but the site’s owners write that they will work with plagiarism technology companies to try and ensure that the website cannot be used for plagiarism.
But some students have admitted that they still plagiarise. One student said that essay sharing websites were not the only places a student could take material from if they wanted to cheat.
She said, “everyone has their friends’ and other peoples’ essays. I have lots, especially from people who have graduated who I know got firsts.
“I’m not against essay sharing websites in principle, I would just worry about the quality of the work that is being uploaded”.