Tuesday November 28 2017

Overcome the hurdle of missing marks

Students celebrate during their graduation

Students celebrate during their graduation ceremony at Kyambogo University recently. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA 

By Desire Mbabaali

If you have gone through the process of clearing after completion of your studies at university, it is very likely you still recall the long lines at every office, the lengthy hours and long suffering you endured. But this process is even more hideous for those who have missing marks and miss graduation thus having to endure it over again.
“I was supposed to graduate last year but some of my marks were missing. Though I managed to retrieve the rest of them, one paper, an elective, could not be found. I was sure I had done that paper in the first semester of my first year, unfortunately for me, I could not trace my paper because I had lost it over the times I shifted from hostel to hostel,” Brian Walusimbi, a student of Makerere University Business School, sadly explains.
After fruitless efforts of going to the various administrative offices for help, Walusimbi was told to get in touch with his lecturer to help him trace the marks.
“The lecturer could not find the marks either, but we were able to find the list of names where all students sign during the exams, and I had signed on it, which proved I had sat the exam. I concluded that my paper could have been misplaced. I had to sit for the exam as a retake. I am now waiting for graduation,” Walusimbi says.
Doubtless, missing marks are disruptive to students but it affects the parent as well. “It was heartbreaking when my daughter’s marks went missing,” Rosemary Nakaiza, a parent, says. Her daughter’s marks had been missing at Kyambogo University and by the time she found them, it was way into the deadline. “The emotional frustration was the biggest challenge. Explaining to relatives and friends why your daughter is not graduating as others do is heartbreaking,” she adds.

The clearing process
Tony Naalima, a graduate from Nkumba University, explains that one starts with acquiring clearance papers – which are available at the different photocopiers in the university. The next step is to get the annual reports for all the years of study. “The annual report should be able to reflect all your marks. If some are missing –which can happen sometimes, then you have to undergo the process of tracing them,” Naalima says.
To trace marks, one goes to their academic Assistant to check the records. If the marks are not in those records, a follow up with the concerned lecturers is done. This is the final person; if the marks are available, then one is set to continue clearance, but if they are not found, then one is bound to prove they sat for the paper by presenting their past papers.
After getting all marks, one clears with their school. “Here, you go with your pass slips at the academic registrar’s office, for a signature after which, you go to the finance office,” he explains. Here, all payment slips are required.
“In case you have some missing, they look for your financial records in the system – but it is very hard to keep all those receipts, so the bursar’s office is the most hectic,” Naalima says, adding, “If you are done clearing, then you wait for two or three days for records to be sent to the academic registrar’s office. Here, all receipts for the national council are required after which you just wait for graduation,” he says.
“Personally, the process took me two weeks, because I had everything needed,” Nalima adds.
The clearance process at Makerere University is not very different from the one at Nkumba.
All student’s clearance forms should possess clearance stamps and signatures from; the faculty/school/institute, followed by the university librarian, student’s guild, police post, hall of residence, games union, university hospital, office of the dean of students and finally the bursar.
At Uganda Christian University, (UCU) Mukono, one ought to clear with; the accommodation office, student’s affairs office, alumni office, custodian’s office, hall/hostel (either internal or external hostel), the library and finally at the bursar’s office.
The systems
“At UCU, students leave with their transcripts on graduation day, so it is imperative that one clears. From the time a student is admitted, they are given an Access Number –to know their progress. All documents and records of a particular student are on their online account,” Ivan Naijuka, the deputy spokesperson UCU, says.
However, every student’s marks are indicated on their accounts, so in case a student is missing any of them, they are able to know the following semester and rectify the problem early enough. “They either go to their dean or the lecturers to find out what went wrong. So, for cases of missing marks, you cannot specifically conclude where the problem arises. It could be on the student –claiming to have sat exams yet they did not –or the lecturer or administratively.”
Shafick Busulwa, a lecturer at Kyambogo University, says, “Student’s marks are always online and are accessible every time. We have results pinned on the notice boards and we are always available to work on those issues. However, sometimes you can miss recording some marks, or accidentally leave out a few students while uploading online. So there can be hiccups here and there. But if checked in time, then it can save one a lot of trouble,” he says.

Hunting the marks
Doreen Namara, a student of Makerere University, shares that, “Tracing your marks is a nightmare. I had five missing papers on my online results. The two from my department were not hard to track, but I had three electives missing from a different department too. Room two at Arts in Arts block was provided to handle such cases,” she says.
“For two days, I went to room two –but was told the system was down, and I should return after four hours. The same happened the following day, which was a Friday, so we were told to return on Monday,” Namara recalls.
“Room two is supposed to open at 9:30am (according to the notice outside the door), so I was in line by 9am. The office opened at almost 10am. I was the 11th in line, so I had waited for about an hour but when I was about to get in, the two women attending to students were heading out for breakfast, so we had to wait for 20 minutes for them to return,” she says.
“Inside, you are given files, and you are supposed to know the course code you are missing, so you look for your name and marks, meanwhile, with harsh threats of, “we shall throw you out if you are taking long.” By some miracle, I managed to find all my marks with all the nervousness and tension in that office,” she concludes.
The world is increasingly becoming digital and so is most documentation. One wonders when the marks systems will also be digitalised. Perhaps this could be the end to a tiring process.

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