Running Down Those Mills: “Essay Mills” Now Illegal in England

Desperate, and in many cases unscrupulous, students have existed since time immemorial, but the internet has made cheating your way through your academic career simpler than ever before. A particular scourge has been so-called “essay mills”, where students can purchase pre-written work, or hire others to draft their assignments for them, whilst taking all the credit themselves.

However, for students taking a post-16 qualification at institutions in England including colleges, universities and sixth forms, the days of simply outsourcing coursework have come to an end, as the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022 has made it an offence to provide such commercial contract cheating services to those students. More pertinently from a marketing perspective, it is also illegal for a person to make arrangements for an advertisement in which that person offers or is described as being available or competent to provide services that breach this legislation.  Publishers in England and/or targeting English consumers are therefore best advised not to carry ads for such services. The ASA/CAP would seek to take robust action, along with our Trading Standards backstop if required, to resolve any breaches that may occur.

This legislation has limited application in Wales, and does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland, although please note that the CAP Code would still apply to any marketing targeted at a UK audience. Understandably, the ASA has taken a dim view of these practices in the past, particularly when they actively encourage academic fraud (, 2019).                       

For more information see details of the Act here and a call on ISPs to provide support in implementing the ban here.                                                   

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