In Summary
  • According to the British media, doctorate candidates pay £2,000 (Sh264,000) to £6,000 for dissertations.
  • For Sh30,000 to Sh50,000, depending on the course, one can get a research project done in two weeks.
  • An assignment costs as little as Sh500, while a term paper sets you back about Sh2,000.

Only days after Kenya made the headlines for producing the world's best teacher, it is in the news again, this time for the wrong reason.

It is described as a hotbed of academic dishonesty, where jobless graduates are minting millions of shillings writing thesis and term papers for students in the United Kingdom.

According to the British media, doctorate candidates pay £2,000 (Sh264,000) to £6,000 for dissertations. “Kenya is the hotbed where the writing happens. There is high unemployment and a job working from home is coveted. They have good English and low overheads,” Dr Thomas Lancaster, a senior fellow at Imperial College, London, was quoted by the British press as saying.

CHEATING

“There are thousands of people in Kenya whose job is to write essays for cheating students. There are several writers in every apartment block,” he added.

A motion is set to be introduced in the UK parliament to ban all forms of advertising for any assistance in academic work.

Initially, the business was done entirely through outsourcing websites run from Europe and hiring people with an ability to write academic material on a freelance basis and then floating jobs for them.

The jobs are usually academic papers given as assignments to students in Europe or the US, but are too lazy to do them. The pay is per page and can be as high as $15 (Sh1,500).

DEGREES

A Nation investigation on Monday found that several young people in Nairobi are engaged in the practice full-time.

In a shared office on Moi Avenue, the clicking of keyboards fuses with the noise from the street below to create the impression of an industry on a roll. The office, just a stone’s throw from the University of Nairobi, is illustrative of the booming underground industry that is helping thousands of students cheat their way to PhDs and Masters degrees.

For Sh30,000 to Sh50,000, depending on the course, one can get a research project done in two weeks to a month for work that is supposed to take an entire semester for a Masters student. And for Sh200,000, a PhD thesis can be done.

An assignment costs as little as Sh500, while a term paper sets you back about Sh2,000.

The company is just one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of such outfits spread across the country that are helping universities churn out graduates who have not met all the requirements.

THESIS

Assignments and term papers contribute to the overall grade of a student. Masters and PhD students are required to undertake research project or thesis and defend it before they are cleared to graduate.

Dr Nancy Booker, the director of academic affairs at the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Mass Communication, says it is the only way for a graduate student to show that he or she has mastered a particular subject. “It shows you have mastered a discipline and you can execute a project from start to finish. It is what makes you an authority in a certain area,” she says.

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