Australia’s education standards regulator has launched action in the federal court seeking to block Australian students from accessing an alleged academic cheating website.
In the first court case of its kind under new laws passed in 2020, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is seeking to force 51 internet service providers in Australia to block access to Assignmenthelp4you.com.
The website boasts it can provide online tutoring and exam prep, but also assignment writing “for students who are unfamiliar of writing university and academic assignments”, and talks about Australia being one of the company’s key markets of operation.
A spokesperson for TEQSA said the injunction to block the website was being sought because the agency believes the site to be in contravention of s114B of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act, which prohibits the advertisement of academic cheating services.
The Australian government solicitor will act on behalf of TEQSA in the court case, which as of Wednesday does not have a listing for the first hearing.
In May TEQSA released data showing 2,628 instances where substantially similar assignments had been submitted in 78 Australian education institutions between 2015 そして 2019, 含む 34 universities and covering a broad range of disciplines.
The new laws passed in September 2020 allow TEQSA to not only block academic cheating websites using court orders, but site operators face up to two years in jail, or fines of up to $110,000 for providing or advertising the services.
“TEQSA’s higher education integrity unit is presently investigating a number of services – including the sources of this data – with a view to pursuing further enforcement action in the coming months,” chief executive Alistair Maclean said in May.
“Our investigative and intelligence sharing activities are backed by our work with providers and academics to strengthen their ability to prevent, detect and respond to cases of commercial cheating and strengthen students’ understanding of why cheating is never the right answer.”
Guardian Australia has sought comment from Assignmenthelp4you.
Similar site-blocking laws are in place for copyright-infringing websites such as torrent sites that allow the sharing of films, TV shows and music.
When the laws were first brought in and cases were brought before the courts, internet service providers stepped in to ensure the court orders were something they could action and block, but in the years since, the companies have not challenged the cases in court.