This article originally appeared on VICE UK. Journalism is hard. It involves medium hours, not great pay if you aspire to be properly middle class, and plenty of writing. Type-type-fucking-type. It’s exhausting. Even getting to line three of this piece has basically knobbled me. But what if there were a better way? What if the likes of me didn’t have to mop our brows any more? What, for instance, if there were a man in India who could do all this for me?
The call centres went East years ago. Legal and accounts services have since followed. Now, the increasingly popular act of university students paying people in India to write their coursework offers a third wave of outsource. So, when I was asked to write about student essay services, it took all of nine seconds to work out how this article would be pieced together: I was going to use one of the student essay services to do it for me.
Choosing the wallah to carry your sedan chair isn’t always easy though. No sooner had I relinquished the reins of writing, than I found myself in the hated world of management. I was a supervisor now, an editor, if you will. I had to find some dude in Gujarat who was content to prostitute his intellect for 120 rupees an hour. And I needed it to be good. Or else I’d probably have to kill myself.
Well, I’d probably have to write the bulk of the article at the very least.
Initial inquiries proved exhausting. “Oh hi. Are you phoning from Australia?” I asked the rep from Oxbridge Essays – who had a strong Indian accent – when an Oz number flashed up on my phone. “That’s right, Melbourne Australia, sir,” he said. I hadn’t the heart to tell him it was half past midnight in Melbourne Australia.
Another company claimed they were in Oxford Circus. “Oh cool, do you ever go into Liberty’s?” I asked, innocently enough. “I am not authorised to discuss this with you sir,” he blanked back. When I pointed out their company address was actually an off-the-peg PO Box on Regent Street, he unilaterally terminated our livechat. Tough crowd.
In the end, there was nothing for it but to dive in. I found, at random, a company called Essay Writing Lab. Plenty of pleasing UX features on the website. The logo was a laboratory beaker. Great, good, fine.
I selected from a rubric. I’d need a thousand words. They priced per-250. It should probably be done to “Undergraduate Standard” (for more money, they offer Masters and PhD too). That should be fine, given that the average VICE reader apparently has a reading age of a 13-year-old. But to counter-balance that tightness, I’d go for “Platinum Quality”. And it would be an “essay”, not “coursework”, or indeed a “dissertation”. Annoyingly, there was no option for “Nobel Prize”. Again, to keep costs low, I gave them a lazy timescale of a week (they offer to do it in 24 hours). I chose my citation style, entered the genre as "business studies", and as my PayPal account drained of real hard-earned money, I couldn’t help but feel elated.
The sales operator on the livechat told me my topic was doable. “Most of our writers have a PhD level of education,” he said. In fact he called the assignment “a piece of cake”.
To make quite sure, I wrote quite a hefty synopsis, offering my man in Bangalore what the ad world call "the freedom of a tight brief". Here it is:
Write an essay describing the functioning of the paid coursework industry.
Use your own experience wherever possible.
What does a paid coursework business look like in the developing world?
Where are they chiefly situated? What do the workers earn per hour and per month? What are their previous jobs and qualifications? Do they drive cool cars?
What are their working hours? What are the conditions like? Is there still smoking in the break rooms?
Do workers feel happy and psyched on life 24/7 or are they mostly sad and just want a cuddle?
How does the quality of coursework compare between US and UK sites and their counterparts in developing countries?
What are the key scams within the industry?
What are the problems of the industry?
Finally: Defend the ethics of cheating the university system by writing other people’s coursework for them. This part should be no more than 100 words.
Seemed easy enough. I pictured my writer, with whom I was encouraged to communicate through my login on the site, praising the day I’d arrived. This would be baby-candy for him. Write what you know, right?
Not only that, this would be his chance to tell the world how he’d been wronged. Finally, he could work on that great memoir of human suffering he’d been rewriting in his head while he toiled, eyes raw, spine coiled like a question mark, fingers knotty corals of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Tragically, though, it turns out you just can’t get good help nowadays. Seven days later, I received an email through the site. My outboard brain was having difficulties. He requested an extension, saying he couldn’t find enough reference material.
The paper requires extensive material research. I am having trouble in finding statistical data or reports that compare coursework between US and U.K. sites and their counterparts in India and Parkistan.
Kindly add me some more time to work on this paper. I guarantee high quality work upon delivery.
I happily granted him one: “Yeah sure bud. Take a bit more time. But also – look inside your heart. What's the latest on when you could have it by?”
“I will deliver in 14 hours time,” he said, with interesting precision. Buddy, you should have stayed in bed. Fourteen hours later, I was in receipt of 1136 words, 60 percent of them incomprehensible.
Selected lowlights? Hard to choose. Certainly, the OED-centric opening is the sort of thing that would sink the heart of any academic marker faster than the Bismarck.
Business is described as the selling and buying of services and commodities. It is the key element that drives the economy. Paid coursework industry is categorized under selling and buying of services. Paid course work industry takes numerous forms that entail writing coursework for students in elementary, high school, and higher learning institutions. The industry has grown and gain recognition by both professional tutors who offer the services and clients who are students from various learning institutions. Technology is the ultimate innovation that has provided search engines that present answers to hundreds of students who are in need of the writing services (Curtis & Shani, 2002).
(Curtis & Shani, 2002, is actually a paper called “The Effect Of Taking Term-Time Employment On Students”. Judge for yourself whether that citation is even warranted.)
The writer then goes on to note that:
Competitive advantage is a common phenomenon in the business environment. Given that online platform gives room for new sites to compete with the existing ones, the issue of competitive advantage is deemed to be vital in the verge of competing for clients.
Which is the sort of awesomely dumb tautology I last saw the one afternoon I decided to flick through a Derrida reader.
The nature of paid coursework industry is online based. Technological advancement has made the world a global village where individuals across the world can interact and share ideas using various online platforms.
“Global village?” What are you, Al Gore in 1999? Come on, mate, even BBC Click can do better futurology than that. But it gets worse:
Working hours are 24 hours but the nature of employment is divided into two including partial employment and full employment. Partial employment works for few hours of the day while full employed workers work across the clock.
Having just wasted 37 words in a semantic clinch that would have Gottlob Frege chewing through his pencil, he moves on to perhaps the best of the bunch. There’s something quite poetic about this next part. It twines various different strands of dumbness into one thick rope of stupidity. It’s… well, see for yourself.
Paid coursework industry is lucrative in developing countries. According to statistics, developing countries are struggling to reduce the gap of unemployment. Disparity in currency between developed countries and developing countries makes this venture worth considering given that many professional writers are well educated. A transparent example is between the US Dollar and the Indian rupee. 1 US Dollar is equal to 64.96 Indian Rupee.
“According to statistics?” Why didn’t I ever think of that?
And that closing line? Given that the Japanese Yen is 124 to the Dollar I’d suppose it’s even more lucrative there.
Having made me hate him, though, like any literary master, my courseworker would now turn on the sympathy. This is what they call "arc". It’s Othello turned from proud Moor to addled murderer. It’s Walter White going from schmuckish chemistry dork to psycho meth Grand Poobah. Here it was: the memoir of human sufferings, the Primo Levi money shot, the Solzhenitsyn kicker, the soul laid bare.
Given that paid coursework is a venture that is based online, it has various challenges. Writers work for long hours and they are happy because they make a lot of money, however, there are underlying challenges that are associated with the nature of this work. They often lack social connection which is deemed vital in the life of human beings. Solitude and loneliness are associated with online works because individuals stay for long hours without face to face interaction with friends and relatives. Another major problem is health issues which come with back ache, neck pains, and headache which are associated with long sitting hours without exercise. Writers who stay up for long hours suffer from fatigue and lack of sleep leading to an impaired judgment.
Right. So, he was suffering from impaired judgement due to extreme sleep deprivation.
It made me take stock. I had, in a very conceited way, assumed his conditions to be equal to mine. Instead, here he was, the digital version of a myopic widow darning socks by candlelight. Every day, hustling.
Bootstrapping together first year sociology essays about the influence of Little Mix on teenage sexuality. Sports science majors’ dissertations on Wayne Rooney’s Elastoplasts. Endless repetitive punching-in of the phrase "the medium is the message". What must he think about our dumbed-down culture, hosed down every day with the sewer pipe ex-Polytechnics training C-students to work in marketing for banks? The horror.
I had come quick to anger, and I had been nothing but wrong in that. Now, there was nothing left but to humble myself, to entrust my happiness to this more enlightened soul. I’d asked, after all, for Essay Writing Lab to round out the hot take with a little moral takeaway. Was paid essay writing cheating the system, as it appeared? Or was it… not, for some weird reason, subject to the same ethical constraints as the rest of civilisation? As ever, my man had an answer, and it was pretty obvious when you thought about it.
It is ethically right to use the services of paid coursework because the advantage of using the services outweighs the disadvantage. It is evident that students who are assisted are highly academic and well acquainted with knowledge since at the end of the semester; they end up sitting for the main exam. In numerous occasions, students use this service to gain insight or format for a certain coursework or due to time constrain. Coursework are produces to provide them with an overview of what should be done.
None of which scrambled syntax and floppy logic allowed me to directly copy-paste this junk over into my editor’s CMS. Aye, sure, scamming lecturers and every honest student is fine, pal. Whatever. But scamming me? You prick.
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