Prosecution of contract cheating

Recent years have seen the emergence of individuals and online companies (colloquially termed ‘essay mills’) that offer bespoke assignment writing services to learners across all discipline areas and award types on the National Framework of Qualifications. The use of these services is known as contract cheating.

Commercial contract cheating services include paraphrasing services (to hinder counter-plagiarism tools such as TurnItIn), falsified work placement reports, research proposal writing services, and research and statistical data outsourcing services.


The facilitation of learner cheating is a threat to the integrity, standards and reputation of Irish education and training. Legislation to address this issue was introduced in November 2019.

Section 43A of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019 makes it an offence to:

  • facilitate a learner to cheat in any way;
  • advertise cheating services to learners; and
  • publish advertisements for cheating services to learners.

QQI is responsible for bringing prosecutions under this section of the Act. Those convicted of an offence under Section 43A may receive a fine of up to €100,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to five years.

If you wish to report concerns about contract cheating or possible breaches of Section 43A of the 2019 Act, please contact QQI at


For education quality and integrity agenciesGlobal Academic Integrity Network

For education and training providersNational Academic Integrity Network 

For learnersYour own work, Your own degree, Your own achievement!