Boru: Students and their academic ghostwriters

College students from the US pay ghostwriters to write their academic papers. That shouldn’t be the case.


by Luul Boru

It has been a year since I heard of the scholastic ghostwriting industry, and it continues to surprise me

Students can pay as little as $5 and as much as $30 or more per page to foreign freelancers, mostly living in Kenya, to write their academic papers, according to a BBC article from 2019. Some students even pay for others to take their online courses. Scholastic ghostwriting is a booming industry that has no regard for schools’ academic integrity. I mean, why should they when this business is probably a great way to make easy money? After all, there is a demand for such cheating services, and there are people and industries ready to capitalize on this.

College or graduate students hire freelance writers located anywhere in the world to work for them on their academic papers. Students can be selective about which country the people they hire should or should not be from so that they get the best out of this service.

These ghostwriters are legitimate and even use websites like to generate clients. Academic ghostwriting is a booming business in Kenya where the industry is valued at $1 billion globally according to BBC news.

However, the writers won’t necessarily disclose their location in case the knowledge of it would deter clients overseas from doing business with them. Instead, they make multiple accounts for themselves and thus bring in more clients. At least for the freelancers, this is a job for them and they are making money by providing services for their clients.

There are a multitude of reasons why students indulge in this form of academic dishonesty. Personally, I think they are all excuses that can be dealt with in ways that don’t involve hiring ghostwriters. Regardless, they have the money to hire someone to do their school work and lack the brain to do it themselves. This could be because they are just lazy or they faked their way through school to get a diploma or degree at the end of the road.

Does this qualify as cheating? I certainly believe it should. But do they get caught? Not as long as the person they hired did not plagiarize the work. Apps like Turnitin, which check for copied work, can’t detect cheating if the work was written by the ghostwriter. After all, these papers can be well-written, and cited properly.

But I still can’t wrap my head around the fact this practice even exists. How can someone bring themselves to avoid learning from their classes and pay someone else to write their master’s thesis or even their Ph.D. dissertation? I just can’t fathom this.

What is the point of going to school and paying tuition if you are just going to hire somebody else to do the work for you? It is a double loss on the student’s part. They are paying the school tuition to supposedly get the education and they are not learning anything in the process. And even worse, they are wasting money on work they could have done themselves

Maybe students engage in this because they struggle with writingessays or simply don’t want to. It is actually disheartening and an insult to education. Only the privileged can indulge themselves in such practice while thousands around the world don’t have access to education.

The student’s need is met and the writer gets paid so it may seem like a win-win for both. But it is actually more damaging and very insulting to the sacred knowledge we seek and it is an exploitation of privileges some have more than others. Education is undoubtedly a priviledge.