A top-ranking Canberra-based university is now investigating claims students bought finished assignments from an ‘essay farm.’ According to PRIME7, the concerns were first raised with the Australian National University by former students.

“Students thinking of using these websites should think twice,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Hughes-Warrington said.

“Those who get caught cheating risk disciplinary action, the most serious of which is expulsion from the university. It just isn’t worth the risk.”

The company, Assignment King, promises to deliver original assignments that cannot be detected by anti-plagiarism software. The service claims to have 250 writers who have graduated from top Australian universities, including The University of Melbourne, The University of Sydney and The University of Queensland.

Around 51 cases of academic misconduct, including cheating, using an essay farm and plagiarism, were found at ANU last year. But the University believes it’s a very small minority of students who do the wrong thing, out of a student body of 20,000.

Last year, a Fairfax Media investigation revealed thousands of university students were paying up to $1000 for assignments completed by the Sydney-based company MyMaster, which has since closed.

MyMaster produced thousands of university assignments and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars after launching in May 2012.

Professor Hughes-Warrington said online essay farms had become a global issue for universities.

“Claims by such websites that they won’t be detected are simply not true,” she said.

“ANU academic staff use a range of techniques — including technology — to monitor and flag potential issues of academic integrity.

“The ANU does not tolerate plagiarism or cheating by any of our students — domestic or international. Students submitting any work are required to formally confirm with their signature that the work is entirely their own.”

“We are proud of the quality of our students who work hard to get into ANU and to graduate,” she said.

“The university makes a point of educating all our students about our expectations of academic integrity.”