Makerere launches probe into claims of fake degree awards

Makerere graduands at a recent function. PHOTO/FILE/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

Action. The university says it is combing its records for evidence of claims that 600 students graduated without meeting the minimum academic requirements.

Kampala. The Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academics has said they are investigating circumstances under which the names of some students appeared on a recent graduation list yet they had not met the minimum academic requirements.
Prof Okello Ogwang yesterday said the university is doing an evaluation check on the records system to find out how the anomaly could have come about.
“We received allegations. Change of marks is just one of the issues; some of the cases might have been mistakes in recordings or simply human error. We are doing a quality and evaluation check on the system as a whole and looking at a wide range of issues. We want to prove them. Whether they are 900 or less, I don’t know. We want all the colleges to re-check their systems,” Prof Ogwang told Daily Monitor.
However, he declined to give details about the students said to number at least 600 or the affected courses, saying findings of their inquiry will be out at the end of the month.
If found guilty, the university said it would withdraw the degrees awarded. More than 13,000 students were awarded diplomas, degrees and PhDs from the university last month.
There have been allegations before of students graduating without completing research; of those who didn’t study at all but go ahead to fake graduation and deceive their parents or guardians; lecturers not marking scripts but forging the results; missing marks and students who get below the pass mark but somehow find their way onto the graduation lists.
Prof Ogwang cited cybercrime as one of the biggest problems facing the 90-year-old institution.
The probe committee, comprising legal and ICT experts, is expected to guide the country’s oldest university to achieve quality higher education.
‘’Whatever our shortcomings, we are ready to make changes. As a public institution that receives public funding, we have a duty to the public and employers to maintain the integrity of our results and if any culprits are found appropriate action will be taken,” Prof Ogwang said.
On the legal implications of the findings, Prof Ogwang said the university administration is ready for anything as long as it protects its integrity.

Results process
Lecturer. Prof Ogwang explained that when the students sit exams, the lecturer grades the exams and takes them to the head of department.
Department. The department then enters the marks into their system. It then sits in a departmental meeting to verify them. Then the head of department appends his signature on a copy of the results.
School. The results are taken to the different schools, formerly referred to as faculties. The School Academic Board merges results of different course units.
Registrar. The board may make necessary changes and submit them to the Academic Registrar’s Office.