The government’s bill was introduced into parliament yesterday
It primarily targets commercial providers.
Why it’s needed: “Providing an academic cheating service … undermines the integrity of Australia’s higher education system and can have serious consequences,” the explanatory memorandum for the Bill states.
What it does: There are “serious consequences” for people convicted as well. Commercial providers could cop a custodial sentence. Non-commercial help can carry a fine of “500 penalty units.” A Commonwealth “penalty unit” is presently $210, making the fine $105 000 in real money.
Who is not prime targets: Critics have warned the legislation can unreasonably capture family and friends helping with a students’ assignment, (CMM July 1). But people proofing somebody else’s work will not be a top priority. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will investigate contract cheating and CEO Anthony McClaran says “it has neither the resources nor intention to approach the problem in this way.” (CMM November 28). Plus, the bill applies to “undertaking of work for students (which) forms a substantial part of, an assessment task that students are required to personally undertake.”
How substantial is substantial: The explanatory memorandum spells it out “In practice, this means that incidental or inconsequential assistance, advice or example answers that might be offered to a student are not at risk of being captured by the new offence provisions. Any assistance that did not change the intent or meaning of the student’s work would not be prohibited by the Bill. For example, while editing of a student’s work by a third party might be prohibited by institutional policy, it would not be prohibited by the Bill so long as it didn’t represent a substantial part of the work.