A man has told CBC News he earns thousands of dollars a year writing university papers for cheating students, part of a wide-spread problem.

A CBC survey of Canadian universities shows more than 7,000 students were disciplined for academic cheating in 2011-12, a finding experts say falls well short of the number of students who actually cheat.

CBC agreed not to name the man who cheats for university students. He said students hire him to write papers. He finds essays online, re-words them and runs the revised drafts through a plagiarism tool.

If it comes back as “original work,” he sells it to the student.

He charges $150 for a paper and $3,000 to do an entire online course. He said he makes $30,000 a year.

Some students cheat during classroom exams.

Some students cheat during classroom exams. (CBC)

“You can just post an ad on Kijiji, for example, for free and people just come to you,” he said.

“Or you could print out maybe a hundred business cards and just go to any university or campus and hand them out. It's that easy. This is one of the businesses where you can make money from nothing.”

The man is based in British Columbia. 

Classroom cheating common

Students in a Fredericton café said with 100 students in a classroom and only one or two people marking papers, it’s easy to get away with it.

Kate Ehrhardt, a former teaching assistant, has even seen cheating in the classroom.

“I've seen everything: looking at phones, talking to the person next to you, having notes with you. Some people like to write on their hands, legs, arms,” she said.

She said TAs like her, who are often the same age as the students, are left to confront the cheaters.

"You see the person directly looking off to the person next to them, or you see someone pull out their phone. You are supposed to go directly up to them and remove their paper, but if they're claiming they weren't doing it, then it's causing a scene and it's distracting everybody else in the class,” she said.

In that case, she had the cheating student come to the front of the class to finish the exam under tighter supervision.

Three New Brunswick universities reported less than 1.5 per cent of students have been punished for cheating.

  • Crandall University 1.5%
  • Universitie de Moncton 0.9%
  • University of New Brunswick 0.34%

Student Shania Maguire said the cheaters ultimately lose out. “I think it’ll come back to bite them. Once you have your employment, you’re not going to know what to do,” she said.