Pay for the grade

by Ilanit Chernick and Robyn Kirk

SOME Witsies could use dishonest means to complete essays and assignments in order to get a degree.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to a number of students about their willingness to turn to other students and websites which offer to do their work for them for a small fee. David* said he would “pay someone” as long as he “didn’t get caught. It’s about getting my degree and passing. I just want to graduate.”

One Witsie said he knew of students who had paid people to write their essays for them and had made use of pay websites without getting caught.

Another student, Najeeba*, said, “I would do it all the time but I would just change it around a bit before handing it in.”

One Witsie said he knew of students who had paid people to write their essays for them and had made use of pay websites without getting caught. But he was unwilling to elaborate.

A number of students said they would only do it in the most “extreme circumstances”, such as if they were failing and it was the “only way” they would pass their degree.

Zondo*, also a student, said he would “happily write essays for others if he was paid for it”. When asked about his price he said he would “charge between R100 and R150 a piece”.

But not all Witsies were willing to take the chance because of the repercussions that come with committing plagiarism. These include the reduction of marks, loss of dually performed points, suspension and even expulsion. Wits defines plagiarism as not only “failure to acknowledge the ideas or writings of another” but also using someone else’s work as your own.

Wits Vuvuzela found a number of websites, including and which cater for South African students even though they have to pay in dollars.

14_Pay websites for students

TRYING OUT: Journalism student Ilanit Chernick explores a pay essay website. Photo: Luke Matthews

What the university says about plagiarism

Wits Vuvuzela was told: “there has only been one disciplinary hearing this year in connection with plagiarism within the Humanities Faculty”.

Dean of Student Affairs Dr Pamela Dube said, “Plagiarism is not just a faculty concern, but impacts on holistic student development. A structured approach to plagiarism offers the best protection for the student and the best protection for the rights and thoughts of others.”

A student member of the disciplinary committee, Tshidiso Ramogale said, “Plagiarism is an issue that is not unique to Wits, it is of concern to any institution of higher learning. The student disciplinary committee has, and will continue to, condemn plagiarism in the strongest words possible as it is that an act that undermines the quality of the Wits degree and the reputation of the university. It also reflects negatively on the student community and the university alumni.”

He suggests students approach the Student Representation Council to get assistance with their cases because they don’t do so often enough.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.


Originally published in Wits Vuvuzela on July, 25 2014 (17th edition). Also available on the Wits Vuvuzela website


About robykirk

Robyn was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, still isn't dead and despises writing in the third person. She received her undergraduate degree at Rhodes University, having completed a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, History and Journalism at the end of 2013 and completed her Honours in Journalism (career entry) at Wits University in Johannesburg during 2014. From April 2015 until March 2016 she worked as the Communications Intern for the MRC/Wits Agincourt Research unit in rural Mpumalanga. This blog is a collection of the work produced: - for the Wits University student newspaper and website Wits Vuvuzela during 2014 - during her internship at MRC/WIts Agincourt Research Unit (2015/2016) and independent blogging (2014-present). Robyn is interested in everything besides sports and mean people. In the past she has specialised in photojournalism and television journalism, and considers visual media to be one of her strongest skills. She decided to become a journalist because learning about other people’s lives was more fun than putting on pants and having her own. Follow her on Twitter: @RobyKirk

Posted on July 25, 2014, in Print stories, Wits Vuvuzela and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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