► Newcastle Uni in damage control
Thousands of students have enlisted a Sydney company to write essays and assignments for them as well as sit online tests, paying up to $1000 for the service. Their desire to succeed threatens the credibility and international standing of some of our most prestigious institutions.
A Fairfax Media investigation has uncovered a sophisticated online business, which has produced thousands of university assignments and turned over hundreds of thousands of dollars since it began operating in May 2012.
Yingying Dou, a 30-year-old Chinese-born woman, is the sole director of MyMaster Group Pty Ltd, which is behind the website, written in Chinese and aimed at international students. It claims to be the largest essay-writing service in Sydney, with 100 graduate writers from “prestigious universities in Australia” ready to accept jobs at any one time.
A flyer posted to the back of a toilet door at UTS gives insight to the anxiety among international students Ms Dou has capitalised on.
“Are you racking your brains on your school work? Do you worry about spending $3000 retaking tuition on the failing subject? Leave your worries to MyMaster and make your study easier!” the flyer says in translation.
Fairfax Media has seen 700 receipts for direct deposits to the MyMaster bank account, totalling more than $160,000 this year alone – a conservative estimate of the company’s annual income, as students can also pay by cash or PayPal.
Payments range from $13 to $1050 and during busy assessment periods the website receives up to 20 requests a day.
One request lodged was for a 6000-word research assignment for a human rights law course at the University of NSW, which was worth 70 per cent of the student’s overall grade.
The cheating is widespread throughout the state’s university system, with almost 1000 assignments produced this year for students studying courses as diverse as philosophy, economics, law, engineering, astronomy and marketing.
One student spent more than $1500 on assignments for five different courses at the University of Newcastle’s Business School. Another student from the University of Wollongong paid for at least eight assignments.
The University of Sydney, the state’s premier institution, was among the most widely affected, with cheating spread across multiple faculties. During 2014, students from at least 37 of the university’s courses used the service.
The entrepreneur, Yingying Dou, went to high school at Pittwater House, a private school in Collaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches, and studied accounting at Macquarie University.
When approached by Fairfax Media, Ms Dou, who runs a university tutoring company called Yingcredible, would not comment on the MyMaster website.
“If you’re talking about MyMaster, I have nothing to talk [about],” she said. “No comment for today.”
Records show MyMaster and Yingcredible Tutoring are registered to the same principal place of business in Sussex Street in Chinatown. Ms Dou is also the registrant of themymaster老域名.auwebsite domain.
Within hours of Fairfax Media approaching Ms Dou, the MyMaster website was taken down.