Essay mill websites facilitate the outsourcing of assignments to internet services – a process known as ‘contract cheating’. The rhetoric used to hook students in relies on fabricated truths about the Higher Education (HE) system; ultimately convincing students that using third-party essay writers is necessary for one to maximise their student experience.

Research by Charles Crook and Elizabeth Nixon from January 2021 reported the findings of 95 essay mill websites, focusing particularly on the framing of the student experience in HE institutions.

The report identified six main rhetorical themes through which the websites tried to convince its readers to use their essay writing services.

Higher Education is pointless, apart from the qualifications you gain from it.

A commonality between the six themes is the persuasive language used to portray HE as being irrelevant, boring and unempathetic. This theme runs from the behaviour of tutors all the way through to the nature of assessments.

The only reason one should attend these oppressive institutions, according to these websites, is for the qualifications you gain at the end. There is, of course, one simple way to get the grades without the learning.

The student experience is portrayed as being “one in which the individual deserves to achieve, despite the oppressive demands of HE life”

Using professional essay writers is, apparently, the only way to achieve good grades whilst escaping the fickle nature of Higher Education. You can enjoy a healthy work-life balance without ‘wasting’ your time privately studying.

How can HE institutions take positives from this going forward?

Crook and Nixon implore HE institutions to learn from and confront the issues suggested on the essay mill websites so that the material is used as framing advice to ensure these fabrications do not become more popular.

To read the full research paper, visit: