Excellence will go to highest bidder

9th September 2005 at 01:00
GCSE and A-level coursework is being sold on the internet auction site eBay for as little as 99p.

Teenagers are auctioning assignments in topics ranging from English literature essays on The Crucible to history tasks and science investigations.

Eight assignments were on offer this week. One student wanted pound;14.90 for a CD of a 38-page design and technology GCSE assignment, which the seller said earned "full marks 100 per cent" in 2004. Another item, with a starting bid of pound;1, on Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, allegedly earned 44 marks out of 45. Three enterprising brothers were offering a "compilation" CD of nine sets of coursework, ranging from GCSE chemistry investigations ("grade A-star") to A-level maths work and even an undergraduate biology research module. The price was a "bargain" pound;3.99.

One seller offering "grade A" pyschology coursework, said to have earned 55 marks out of 60, warned against plagiarism but admitted: "Once you've received the files I can't exactly stop you."

Nearly 700 students were caught plagiarising by England's three exam boards last year, an 11 per cent increase on 2003, but the exams regulator admits the figure may be the tip of an iceberg.

And the eBay offers come after years of complaints about internet sites offering pupils access to thousands of coursework essays.

Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, who has admitted that it is impossible to know how many children are cheating at coursework, has ordered an investigation.

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