Who wrote the essay?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am


HONG KONG - Students condemned the hiring of ghostwriters after a Hong Kong-based company was found selling academic papers to university students worldwide.

An investigation by the South China Morning Post found that online business Ivythesis has for 10 years been supplying students from as far afield as Africa and the Middle East with essays - for HK$125 a page.

Henry Lui, 12, from Sha Tin College, says it is the academic equivalent of hiring someone to forge a legal signature.

The Post obtained from the website a 2,000-word essay reviewing the city's public-service broadcasting, which one academic said 'isn't too bad'.

Baptist University associate journalism professor Judith Clarke said the essay wasn't A-plus work. 'It passes muster as a rather lacklustre essay by a student in the upper forms of a school, or even a very mediocre undergrad,' she said.

Education lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong described the operation as an 'unforgivable fraud' and urged the commercial crime bureau to investigate the company.

Cheung said: 'The bureau should tackle this issue because the company is based here and it encourages people to fraudulently obtain their degrees.'

But police said it would investigate only if it received complaints.

Local universities - whose rules do not list hiring ghostwriters as an offence - reported only a couple of plagiarism cases last year. Copying can result in expulsion. Abigail Chen, 16, from Creative Secondary School in Tseung Kwan O, thinks buying essays is unethical and should be considered an offence by the school.

'What good is going to university if you're not going to learn anything. Even if you get a job, you're bound to be tested on your skills,' she says.

Fong Hui-yi, 16, from Kiangsu-Chekiang College International Section in North Point, questions whether the ambiguity in the university rules implies that even professors can hire ghostwriters.

'If this behaviour becomes prevalent, it will challenge how we should define an educated person,' Hui-yi says.

Additional reporting by Joyee Chan