Kiwi students are being encouraged to upload their lecture
and exam notes to a website that sells them on to other
students, and returns a share of the profits.
Nexus Notes has been operating in Australia and is now
targeting the New Zealand market.
The website says the notes are vetted. However, New Zealand
universities have warned students to beware of quality
New Zealanders are uploading their lecture notes to a website
that sells them on to other students and returns a share of
the profit to the author.
The University of Otago has discouraged its students from
using the service, which was established in Australia and is
now targeting customers here.
Nexus Notes sells university course notes for $35 a set, with
the students who uploaded their work taking half the sale
The owners of the scheme say they vet all notes and only
approve those from students who received a final mark of 75
per cent or above. Notes can be previewed online.
The service has been used by students at more than 16
Australian universities and the website has now announced its
intention to expand to New Zealand.
A University of Auckland law student has uploaded 11 sets of
notes, with reported subject marks as high as 95 per cent.
Several University of Otago honours students are also
offering notes on the website.
That has prompted a response from the University of Otago.
Its spokeswoman, Megan McPherson, advises students to be
confident they understand the issues involved.
"Our view is that this has parallels to an informal textbook
that offers little quality assurance and is written by
students who are not necessarily experts.
"Students resorting to sites of this kind also need to
recognise that there is absolutely no guarantee as to the
quality or currency of any material they might purchase or
access, so it is a case of caveat emptor [buyer beware]."
Ms McPherson said the university considered a student's
academic prospects would be enhanced by attending lectures,
taking their own notes and working with staff.
"Notwithstanding the comments around quality, the university
reserves the right to take action against individuals or
organisations who infringe on the intellectual property
rights of its staff, but does not regard the act of buying
and selling course notes per se as actionable."
Nexus Notes community manager and former University of Otago
law student Xavier Collins said he accepted universities
might not like their business model.
But he said it was part of the "changing face of academia in
the digital age".
"This is something that is starting to take off all over the
world, including at top institutions like Oxford and
Mr Collins said the service was legal, provided students
submitted notes they had written themselves. It was not
plagiarism as universities do not mark notes, he said, and
the website did not sell assignments.
"To date, there has been zero push-back from Australian
universities. In fact, we have made some very positive
partnerships with faculty societies from different campuses
across the country, an example being Sydney University
"In terms of feedback from universities themselves, we have
academics such as law deans state that our site is
'facilitating learning'. We do acknowledge, however, that our
concept is disruptive."
A University of Auckland spokeswoman said course materials
were already available online, as well as many lecture
"Simply reading and regurgitating someone else's notes will
not ensure success at university."
- Nicholas Jones of the New Zealand Herald