Student asked to leave essay-writing firm
ONE of the country's biggest universities has asked a master's student to step down from a company offering students help with college assignments.
Michael Noble (23) set up 'Write My Assignments' with Matthew Keogh, offering assignments written by former graduates for up to €450.
Students at a number of Dublin-based universities have so far ordered 72 essays in total through the Wicklow-based firm. The two men set up the company after graduating from an entrepreneurship course at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
Mr Noble is now a master's student in the Smurfit Graduate Business School at UCD.
However, the Irish Independent understands Mr Noble has agreed to take a step back from running the firm after UCD said it may breach the college's ethical guidelines.
A spokesman for UCD said the college did not discuss individual cases.
However, early last month, the dean of the UCD Business School, Professor Tom Begley, issued a message to students reminding them of the "paramount importance of honesty in the conduct of their studies".
It outlined the university's policy on plagiarism, stating this involved the "inclusion of another person's writings or ideas or works, in any formally presented work including essays".
A UCD spokesman added: "Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. It is defined by the act, not the intention. All students are responsible for being familiar with the university's policy statement on plagiarism."
Mr Keogh said the essays were simply provided as "guidelines" for further clarity in a subject and were not designed for the student to hand in as their own work. He said they would by "no means condone plagiarism".
The documents are written by former graduates who have completed courses with a standard of a 2.1 or a 1.1.
Mr Keogh confirmed 72 documents had so far been ordered from the firm; while talks were under way between students and mentors on a further 30 projects.
The prices paid vary depending on word count and the amount of time it takes -- from €280 to €300 for a 3,000-word project to €380 to €450 for a 5,000-word project.
Mr Keogh admitted the reaction to their firm had been "mixed" among academics, and the name of the firm had sparked controversy.
However, he stressed it was a legitimate business.
Mr Keogh said the firm planned to expand outside of Dublin to other colleges, including University College Cork, IT Carlow, NUIG and IT Sligo.