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Manufacturing mistrust

News of the big bucks paid for a plagiarism detection company shows how far relationships between lecturers and students have fallen victim to the market.

After government pressure, the online payment company PayPal has promised to withdraw services from essay-writing companies that sell to students. But the acquisition of plagiarism detection company Turnitin for $1.75 billion (£1.3bn) by Advance Publications earlier this year demonstrates how profitable the higher education market has become for technology companies.

As concern grows about student plagiarism, Turnitin is making cheating into an opportunity to extend its automated detection software, monetising student effort in the process. The existence of such companies does little to alleviate mistrust between universities and students, and can even increase it.

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