New "cheating" offences for post-16 education

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022.

The new Act includes a variety of measures relating to the post-16 education landscape, including new criminal offences aimed at stopping “cheating services”, often informally known as “essay mills”.

In summary, there are two new criminal offences, namely:

  • an offence of providing or arranging a relevant service in commercial circumstances; and
  • an offence of advertising a relevant service to students.

A “relevant service” is defined as: “a service of completing all or part of an assignment on behalf of a student where the assignment completed in that way could not be considered to have been completed personally by the student”.

The Act makes clear that a student does not commit an offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of the offence of providing/arranging a relevant service by making use of a relevant service to complete an assignment.

The Skills Minister Alex Burghart MP has written to internet service platforms to inform them of the new legislation.

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