Birmingham (England) - Birmingham City University officials say as many as 1000 students are outsourcing their homework to coders in India. The students attend or have attended universities and A-School (Britain’s equivalent of the last two years of a US high school) and outsourced homework as simple as a minor coding project to full-blown post-graduate dissertations. Birmingham officials say students sometimes paid as little as $10 for homework.
Birmingham City University have been monitoring outsourcing websites since 2004 and say the cheating is almost impossible to detect. This makes sense because programming is much more structured than say writing an essay — really there are only so many ways you can write a function or program.
It’s easier than you might think to get your homework outsourced. A quick search through Google brings up several companies and perhaps the most prominent one — with the most common sense name — is rentacoder.com. Operating on an auction system, students and companies place ads describing the coding project and programmers then bid on the job. The lowest bidder wins. The university claims that students pay from $10 for a small homework project to $200 for a dissertation.
Companies have been outsourcing their coding for years and it was only a matter of time before students started using the same systems. Of course, you can argue that students who outsource their homework overseas are only hurting themselves when they finally get a job. We can only hope that employers give a comprehensive interview that tests coding skills, but unfortunately some organizations are primarily concerned about whether the applicant has a degree from a prestigious college or university.
Outsourcing of IT homework is just a small part of a growing trend to sending services overseas. Recently several U.S. newspapers have outsourced their copyediting to India and the Philippines. In many ways this makes sense, because of the time difference newspaper reporters can send their stories to India where it will be daytime. The stories will then be edited and sent back in time for the printing presses to run.