In a chilling piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ed Dante (a pseudonym) describes what it's like to churn out papers for students, at a price. He's made a decent living at it. That people are hired to complete coursework is not new -- a few years ago, Nick Mamatas wrote about his time as a Term Paper Artist. Dante provides additional detail.
In his experience, "three demographic groups seek out his services: the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid." Sadly, Dante notes that some of his best customers are seminary students and nursing students. He explains that included among the multitude of papers he's penned for people,
I've written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I've synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I've written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I've completed theses for those on course to become principals.
Apparently some of the folks who are supposed to prevent this from happening are in on the deal! Generally, Dante doesn't have very nice things to say about our education system. For the English-as-second-language students and the ones whom he describes as hopelessly deficient,
colleges are utterly failing them. Students who come to American universities from other countries find that their efforts to learn a new language are confounded not only by cultural difficulties but also by the pressures of grading. The focus on evaluation rather than education means that those who haven't mastered English must do so quickly or suffer the consequences. My service provides a particularly quick way to "master" English. And those who are hopelessly deficient—a euphemism, I admit—struggle with communication in general.
The entire piece makes for a good read.