An investigation by The Times has revealed close to 50,000 students have been caught cheating over the past three years, after submitting their academic work.

Of the 129 UK universities that formed a part of the investigation, the University of Kent was considered the worst university for student cheating – with 1,947 cases – followed by the University of Westminster, which has 1,933 cases, and the University of East London, which clocked in 1,828 cases of student cheating.

The newspaper also found that students categorised as international students -those studying at a UK university from outside the EU- were the worst offenders for cheating, with them being four times more likely to cheat in exams and coursework as their UK and EU counterparts, a series of freedom of information requests revealed.

In a statement to the Independent, the University of Kent said it used “robust systems” to detect anyone cheating whilst studying at the University, adding that it “will not tolerate academic misconduct”.

A freedom of information request seen made earlier this year asked for information to be released regarding the prevalence of student cheating at UEA. They requested figures from the past three academic years about cheating in coursework and exams by ‘Home/EU’ students and ‘overseas’ students. The request was denied on the grounds that the “cost of finding and assembling some of the requested information will exceed the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450, which equates to 18 hours’ work”.

According to The Times, “type-one plagiarism” -direct, word-for-word copying of another person’s work without attribution- is decreasing in prevalence because it is so easy to detect, something which students are aware of. But “type-two plagiarism”- the use of bespoke essay-writing service, is on the up.

Businesses such as these can charge hundreds of pounds for a variety of services, ranging from proofreading and editing of essays through to the full writing of dissertations.

One of these services, Essays UK, advertises that it provides an undergraduate essay worth a 2:2 for £119, £135 for a 2:1, and £270 for a first.

One UEA student, who aksed not to be named, admitted to using such an essay writing service. They said that “It was really a last resort. I had two essays that I really put off and didn’t really know how to approach, saw an advert, and decided to go for it.”

UK Essays assures students that the bespoke quality of their essays means that “the service we offer is 100% legal, it won’t make you a cheat”.