A group University of Namibia (Unam) students who have been accused of plagiarising during an examination will miss another make up examination and graduation due to delayed hearings.
The students who spoke to The Villager under anonymity were scheduled for a disciplinary hearing, which was postponed as Unam representatives had failed to appear at the hearings on numerous occasions.
The students from the Faculty of Education at the university were accused of plagiarism during the December 2015 examinations, and ever since had their exams pronounced null and void awaiting a disciplinary hearing. Speaking to The Villager, one of the students said the lecturer refuses to mark their examinations because of the pending disciplinary hearing.
“I missed the April graduation and is now forced to repeat my modules. This is not only delaying our graduation, it is also very costly. The hearing was supposed to be held 10th March this year but was postponed to an unknown date and we are in June now. Some students were accused of level three plagiarism, which is cheating but now we all have to be dragged into the same boat with the students who were accused of serious academic fraud,” the student speaking on condition of anonymity said.
According to Unam’s Plagiarism Policy, when a student is accused of cheating in an exam, the case should be considered by the Student Disciplinary Committee, where the current case is stucked without further progress.
The policy states that “If the student is found guilty they shall fail the course and be suspended from the University for one semester. A standard letter should be sent to the student(s) informing them of the decision of the Student Disciplinary Committee and a copy of this letter should be kept on record by the Committee and also sent to the sponsors of the student. A letter shall be sent to all departments in which the student is taking courses to inform them that the student has been suspended.”
According to the student, the university, on the morning of The Villager interview, sent them text messages informing them that the hearing will take place in three weeks.
The disgruntled student, however, added that it is no new promise. Another student, who also chose anonymity added her voice to the dissatisfaction over the issue, saying she is not guilty but still has to bear the consequences because of the delayed hearing. The student accused the lecturer of having “personal issues of insecurities and practices favouritism”
“Some of us were not guilty but until the day that they are going to conduct the hearing, we have to face the same punishment as those who are guilty. At this stage I do not mind being found guilty if only they will get this done and over with and let us off on a warning. This issue of us failing is not good. We want to graduate. I am a part-time teacher and I am only receiving half of my salary while this disciplinary hearing is underway,” she said.
The Public Relations Officer of Unam, John Haufiku, said due to issues of confidentiality and to protect the concerned students’ integrity they cannot reveal the details of the allegations. Haufiku added that the important issue now is that the university is fully aware of the disciplinary hearings, which must take place as soon as possible.
He tendered a “sincere” apology to the students affected by this delay.
“We are currently consulting how best to speed up this process in order to avoid any prejudice to students. Especially those who may only have this matter outstanding, and may be able to graduate later this year. The Office of the Dean of Students will be communicating with these students regarding exact dates directly within the next few days,” Haufiku told The Villager.
The Unam plagiarism policy stipulates that when recommendation has been made by the Student Disciplinary Committee for a student should to be expelled for a Level Four Violation of the policy, students will have the right to appeal to the Council Appeals Committee. The student will however be allowed to continue their studies at the University until such time a Senate has confirmed or rejected the recommendation of the Student Disciplinary Committee. Students will be informed that if they should choose to continue their studies whilst the appeal is being heard they will not be entitled to any rebate of their course fees if the recommendation of the Student Disciplinary Committee is confirmed.