22 September 2017

Uganda: Nawangwe Vows to End Results Scam At Makerere

Photo: The Observer
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the new vice chancellor of Makerere University

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the new vice chancellor of Makerere University, kicked off his first full week on the job by working to stop the damaging students' marks falsification scam, a key promise of his campaign.

Last week, Prof Nawangwe announced the university was investigating how 300 students got their poor degree results changed to good grades. He said the university first discovered that the students' marks were tampered with in 2015.

"The scam was discovered... and we had to take action immediately, stopping several [students] from graduating," he said. "However, the probe is more thorough; we are looking at results from 2011 to make sure the abuse of our integrity is stopped," he added.

Nawangwe said some people in charge of the results system were behind the changes.

"It is an ICT problem; so, we have not been as fast as we wanted in dealing with it, but we are making good progress and those found guilty will be punished," he added.

"The punishments range from a strong reprimand to suspension and outright dismissal from university service," he said.

The university-wide investigation is combing through results of questionable degrees and comparing them with students' papers and exam results submitted by lecturers to their deans going back to 2011. The probe is also looking at the academic registrar's records over the same period.

The probe comes two years after 600 students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Chuss) were removed from the graduation list.

A whistleblower pointed out that the students' marks were lower than the required pass mark for their courses. Prof Nawangwe signaled that students found with tampered results would face severe disciplinary action.

"We are anxious to ensure that students do not abuse the good name of Makerere; so, there will be no mercy for those found guilty," he said.

Nawangwe declined to be drawn into naming the worst affected university facultiesbut said the probe would "reach all corners" of the institution.

Meanwhile, in a statement released on Tuesday, September 19, Alfred Masikye Namoah, the academic registrar, said: "On the issue of recalling degrees, the office of the Academic Registrar wishes to clarify that the affected number of students are 69 who graduated from the university in the last five graduation sets.

Thus if the investigations prove beyond reasonable doubt that the 69 students graduated with altered marks and/or without fulfilling all the requirements, and following a fair hearing for each of the 69 affected students, then the degrees will be recalled in line with the university policy."

He added: "When the university received information on possible alteration of marks; Makerere University Senate instituted an investigation into the matter. The investigation revealed that a number of continuing students' records had been tampered with.

The committee has concluded their investigations on some cases and those students who have been found to have a hand in the alteration of marks have been given the punishments they deserve.

The investigations also revealed that some of the continuing students conspired with some members of staff to alter marks on the Results Management System. In this regard, members of staff who were implicated in this have either been suspended or dismissed."

In March, police arrested two systems administrators at the university on suspicion of being involved in the falsification of results scam, bringing to at least six the number of university employees who were interrogated.

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