At Unitec, we want you to succeed as you.

This means we want to see your ideas and hear your voice in your assessments, not someone else’s. We start with the academic values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. These are the basis of integrity in learning and assessment.

We want you to be honest and have the courage in putting forward your own ideas. This builds trust and creates fairness for everyone in their learning – everyone has an equal chance; no one has an unfair advantage.

Using someone else’s ideas or words without proper referencing goes against the values of academic integrity.

More seriously, using someone else’s ideas or words and presenting them as your own is considered academic misconduct, often referred to as plagiarism. It’s very important that you know what plagiarism is, what the special form of plagiarism known as “contract cheating” is, how the use of Artificial Intelligence tools may be viewed as misconduct, and how to avoid these issues.


What is plagiarism

Plagiarism is using other people’s research, work, ideas, or expressions without giving credit to them or acknowledging them as the source through proper referencing.

How to avoid plagiarism in your assignments

Once you understand what plagiarism is, you can avoid it by:

  • Knowing where your ideas have come from. This means you know which are your own ideas, and if you are using someone else’s idea, you know where you read or heard it.
  • Ensuring that you have referenced it correctly. If you are using someone else’s idea, you need to reference it appropriately.

What is referencing

Referencing is an academic process of acknowledging someone else’s ideas and working on your own work.

Generally, this means using quotation marks when you copy someone’s words and referring to (“referencing”) the author’s name and the year their book or article was written, after the quotation.

Each subject uses slightly different referencing systems with specific formats, so please check with your lecturer or tutor to understand what referencing style and format to use in your assignments

Find out more about referencing 

Where you can get help

You should always talk to your lecturer or tutor first if you need any academic help, especially so that you know what they expect of you regarding academic integrity.

If you need further help, you can book an appointment with a Learning Advisor or with a Subject Librarian on the Unitec Library website.

Unitec Library

Study Toolbox.

The consequences of plagiarism

Unitec takes active steps to identify plagiarism and applies its Student Disciplinary Statute to manage academic integrity breaches.

The consequences of plagiarism depend on your intentions, the learning situation, and the assessment task, but can be:

  • a formal warning;
  • a reduction in your mark or grade; and
  • in some cases, expulsion from your programme of study.

For some students, there may be other lasting consequences of plagiarism. Unitec is often required to attest to the honesty and integrity of its students to third parties (for instance, to the Nursing Council prior to registration as a nurse). If you have a history of cheating (including plagiarism), Unitec may find itself unable to attest that you are ‘of good character.’

Using Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Artificial Intelligence is around us in many useful forms. You may have seen it while using Grammarly or Siri. Generative AI, for example, ChatGPT, is a large language model that produces content that imitates human writing. At Unitec, we know Generative AI is a powerful tool that is being used in the workplace and in education, so we accept its use in a teaching and learning context. 
However, it may be a significant breach of academic integrity to use Generative AI to produce all or part of an assessment that is submitted as your own, original work. Generative AI is a type of third-party assistance, as is Contract Cheating (see below). You are at risk of accidentally committing academic misconduct if you submit work created by AI as your own. If you are unsure of how you can use it, check the assessment instructions, or check directly with your teacher. 
Disclaimer: AI technology is rapidly evolving, so this information may be updated from time to time to reflect new developments. 

Contract cheating

What contract cheating is

Contract cheating (sometimes called ‘ghost-writing’) is a type of plagiarism when a student gets someone else to write an assessment or assignment, which they then submit as their own work.

It can involve paying a fee to a third party, but it doesn’t have to. Specifically, it doesn’t matter if:

  • You are approached by someone offering to do the work, or you approach someone to ask them;
  • You pay for the work done, or it is done for free; and
  • The work is done by a friend, family member, or a professional contract-cheating company.

In all cases, if a third party (including a family member, a paid cheating service, or Generative AI) has done the work or part of the work for you and you submit it as your own original work, it is a very serious breach of our academic integrity expectations. We consider it as cheating. Most important of all, by using someone else’s ideas or work and passing it off as your own, you are also cheating yourself of learning.

If you agree to pay money to a cheating service, you are placing yourself at serious financial and reputational risk, and are also undermining integrity values like fairness and trust and cheating your own learning.

Instead, be guided by us on how to do the right thing – talk to your lecturer about what is expected (such as referencing), seek their feedback before you submit your work, write your own ideas, and go for the honest result.

Possible consequences of contract cheating

Contract cheating is a huge and growing industry involving a lot of money charged to students like you by people who are not interested in your learning or welfare. They are only interested in profiting from you. One hidden consequence of paying someone to write an assignment for you is that you can be blackmailed after you have paid for and used the cheating service. Students have reported that they have been threatened: if they do not pay further fees to the cheating service, their actions will be made known to their school or university. This is something you cannot afford to risk – either for your financial situation, your reputation, or your chances of graduating.

If an organisation approaches you claiming to be legitimate

It does not matter how you are contacted, or how legitimate the company might seem; contract cheating is still cheating.

We have evidence that cheating services are finding their way into students’ social media pages and elsewhere. They are known to promote themselves in locations like bus stop shelters and shopping mall toilet cubicles.

These commercial “assignment help” services may present themselves as friendly, helpful, and supportive – “let us help you – we know you’re busy and stressed…” and you may not initially recognise that they are offering a cheating service.

Don’t let them fool you. These are businesses that thrive by making money off you.    

What to do if you are approached by a contract-cheating company

The best response to an approach from companies offering contract cheating services is to ignore them; engaging with them can be damaging to your future.

Under the New Zealand Education and Training Act section 393 (2020), it is an offense to “provide or advertise cheating services,” and companies or individuals convicted of this can face a fine of up to $10,000.

Unitec takes contract cheating very seriously and will take active steps to address our concerns with these companies directly as we find them, including requiring them to cease using any reference to Unitec and reporting the company to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. As a student at Unitec, you have an opportunity to help us stop these companies from approaching Unitec students by sending copies or screenshots of any communications you receive or approaches you to see to, and we will undertake to address it with the company.