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Marks Fraud: Dismissed Makerere Students Fight to Return

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They were dismissed from Makerere University in 2018 August and December respectively for allegedly procuring the alteration of their marks.
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Two former Makerere University students are struggling to overturn their dismissal by the Senate over marks fraud, Uganda Radio Network has learnt. 

They are Simon Peter Musisi Ntege, a former student of Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Phillip Kakuru, a former student of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT).

They were dismissed from Makerere University in 2018 August and December respectively for allegedly procuring the alteration of their marks.  They were charged and found guilty of fraud under rule 5(c) of the University Regulations on Examination Malpractices and irregularities (2015). This specifically states that it shall be an offence for a student in an examination to falsify or alter marks on an examination script book.  

 

It provides for cancellation of the relevant examination results, suspension or dismissal of the affected student from the university.  However, the affected students have appealed to the University Council, the supreme governing body of the university denying allegations of participating in marks alteration.

They pray to the council to exercise fairness and overturn the decision made by the Senate and allow them complete their courses. Senate at its special meeting held on March 30, 2016, set up a Central Ad hoc Examination Irregularities and Malpractices (Alteration of Marks) Marks Committee to hear and determine complaints concerning examination malpractices.  

The students were apparently invited to appear before the probe committee for a hearing.  



The Phillip Kakuru Case
 

 

The committee noted that whereas the school records/ mark sheets had lower genuine marks for Phillip Kakuru, the Results Management System –RMS had new forged s marks for six course units.

For instance, whereas the authentic marks for courses; CIV1201 Strength of Materials initially is 39% the new mark was 80%; CIV2101 Theory of Structures Initially with -1% was changed to 67%, CIV2103 Engineering Surveying I changed from39% to 65%; CIV2104 Hydraulics changed from 40 to 77%; CIV2105 Thermodynamics for Civil engineers (elective) changed from 34 to 76% while EMT2101 Engineering Mathematics III was altered from 39 to 80 per cent.  

Alfred Masikye Namoah, the Makerere University Academic Registrar, says Kakuru’s marks changed at least three times on the RMS and the probe committee found him guilty of participating in the alterations. Kakuru’s dismissal was unanimously endorsed by the Senate at its 163rd meeting held on November 26, 2018.  

A dismissal from Makerere means that a student is ineligible to change program or apply for any other program within the university.  But Kakuru explains he has never at any time been involved in any form of examination malpractice and the alleged results alteration.  

“I sat all the retakes during my academic journey and managed to get requisite pass marks within the times allowed by the university rules to re-sit the papers,” he explains.  On February 23rd 2016, the student further explains that he received a letter from the principal CEDAT dated January 29th 2016 requiring him to submit a written defense in response to the said marks alteration. 

Kakuru says he responded within two weeks of receipt of the letter, attaching all documents proving that he registered for the papers, some of which were retakes.  “I sat for all the papers that have been complained of in accordance with the University rules that allow a student to sit papers for at least three times. I appeared before the committee on 8th day of June 2016 and pleaded not guilty to these allegations,” Kakuru narrates.      

Adding that, “The committee went silent and summoned me two years later on April 20th, 2018 when I was completing my last academic semester of my studies. I submitted several documents (original bank slips, financial statements, original copies of testimonies, and proof of registration and examination permits) all of which were retained and have never been returned to date,” he adds.  

According to Kakuru, the allegations of malpractice were raised while in his 2nd year of study but he proceeded to his 3rd and 4th year passing successfully without contest.  He says he was due to graduate in January 2019 and even appeared on the graduation list until Senate hastily decided to discontinue him.  

“I am concerned that I was allowed to proceed with the course for two years without any form of interruption after the allegations were raised, in which time I was paying tuition and all other university dues, incurring costs in accommodation and other course related expenses. It is unfair to hurriedly take a decision that affects my entire academic journey at the graduation time,” Kakuru says in his appeal to Council.  

Kakuru says he is puzzled that the probe committee took a decision without verifying whether the results he sat for exams or not.  “As a student, I didn’t have any access to the University System to carry out the alleged alteration of marks. I have not involved myself with any person that could be involved in the said malpractice,” explains Kakuru.  

Simon Peter Musisi Ntege He joined Makerere University in 2010 under Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Technology and completed the course in 2014. He was set to graduate in January 2015.  

“Unfortunately I did not appear on the graduation list and the reason that was communicated to me was that my marks had been altered with respect to six course units,” Ntege discloses.  The student according to Namoah was found guilty of marks fraud and dismissed.      

During the probe, the committee invited the student’s lecturer, Head of Department and College Registrar for a hearing. He provided the students original academic records that were conflicting with the record of results extracted by the ICT unit of the academic registrar.    

The probe team accused the student of altering marks for course; UNIV 1001 Communication Skills from 63 to 85%, CMP2103 Object Oriented Programming from 55 to 64%, ELE 1202 Electricity and Magnetism from 52 to 85% and EMT2101 Engineering Mathematics III from 55 to 66%. Meanwhile, TEC 1301 Workshop Practice (Core Course) changed from 63 to 85% while CMP2203 Digital Logic changed from 54 to 85%. 

     

The ICT unit told the probe committee that the marks were altered through the back end of the RMS, but the student claimed he didn’t check his results until 2015. The probe team said Ntege failed to provide any satisfactory explanation to contradict the evidence.  

However, Ntege has told the university council that whereas the probe team alleged that his lecturer’s pinned him on the offense, he never saw any CEDAT staff during the three committee panels he appeared since 2016.  

“It may have been confirmed by the ICT Division that the said marks were altered through the back end of the result management system but they said I.T witness who was called to testify to this did not at any one time in his evidence specifically state that the altering was done by me,” Ntege explains.  

“No evidence was brought to show that I altered the said marks or that I procured someone to do so on my behalf. The reason is very simple, I have no access to the said system of entry of marks and I never had,” he added.  Ntege accused the probe committee of reaching at its final decision basing on speculation, which he says has not been ably proved to date.  

“For the said Committee to pronounce itself on the same and arrive at a decision to have me dismissed from the university based on the fact I was the only person to benefit from the said alteration without evidence that I participated in the same is grossly unfair. The ingredient of participation in an allegation as serious as this is very key and it should be noted to you Mr. chairperson [Council] that the committee fell short of proving the same as against me,” Ntege says in defense.  

The student through his lawyer, Patricia Magara of M/s Maxim Advocates said he would drag the university to court if Makerere doesn’t give the justice he deserves.  “Why should I be dismissed from Makerere University for something I did not participate in doing, was not privy to, and did not procure anyone to participate in the same for my benefit?” Ntege wonders.  

In March 2017, university authorities were forced to close the RMS used to record students' examinations marks, and subsequently suspended the issuance of academic transcripts.  Later in September of the same year, the university canceled at least 69 degrees after the university audit found that the students’ transcripts were either forged or reflected altered results.