The Auckland University Students Association says people shouldn't be too quick to judge students who may be caught up in a cheating scheme claimed to be operating in New Zealand.
The language website Assignment 4U is under investigation by police and the Qualifications Authority over selling essays to overseas students.
At an Auckland University Students' Association meeting on Monday night representatives discussed why some students are driven to cheat.
Association president Daniel Haines says there's no excuse for cheating, but it's not always as black and white as some believe.
He says most of those who cheat are under pressure from their parents and they usually have some serious underlying issues.
But a senior lecturer at Massey University says cheating is far more of a problem with international students studying in New Zealand than with local students.
Catherine Strong says overseas students are more motivated to acquire degrees than to gain the knowledge students get from studying.
She says New Zealand students would rather get a lower grade than part with the $250 they would have to part with to buy an assignment.
However, Dr Strong says the culture of cheating is far greater in other countries, and New Zealand has one of the most rigourous systems in the world for catching cheats.