Authorities of Bayero University Kano (BUK) are taking steps to strengthen best practices through promoting integrity by eliminating all forms of academic fraud.
Thus, University Senate at its 374th meeting held on July 31, 2019 approved the expulsion of 24 students as a last resort for what it called falsification of entry qualifications.
Also, six others were asked to withdraw from the university for allegedly presenting fake results while another student of B.Sc. Mass Communication withdrawn for presenting school certificate exam result already cancelled by the National Examination Council.
A statement by the Director, Examinations, Admissions and Records (DEAR), said the expulsion followed a report submitted by the Senate Committee on Entry Qualification Irregularities.
The statement said the actions of the expelled students contravened categories 3.6 and 3.8(a) respectively of the General Examinations and Academic Regulations (GEAR).
In the same vein, 18 students would be re-invited to appear before the Senate Committee on Entry Qualification Irregularities for fair hearing, the statement said.
Similarly, 63 students are said to have been expelled and 13 others rusticated for one year for their involvement in various forms of examination misconducts. This followed a recommendation submitted by the Senate Committee on Examinations Misconduct and Leakages approved on August 28, 2019, at the 374th meeting of the highest decision making body of the institution. Nineteen students were served with warning letters for other infractions.
However, these steps taken by the university have raised public concern on why it took it so long to take the decisions that have dire consequences, taking into consideration that a good number of those affected were either in their final year of studies or have graduated. Again, since the falsified and fake results were presented at the entry level, students were about the gate-keeping structure of the admission unit.
Some of the victims claimed they were not fairly treated with others expressing resolve to appeal the decision of the university.
When Daily Trust contacted the institution for clarification, an official at the DEAR, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “It’s good to understand the number of students as well as the number of activities we are dealing with at that entry level for one to appreciate how rigorous the task is.
“In terms of number of students, we are talking about over 8,000 students, and as the name of our directorate implies, we are dealing with issues of examination, admissions and records, each of which is an enormous task on its own,” the official said.
The official further explained that a large number of students with fake and altered results were blocked during screening, but that since there was no point reporting that, it did not attract attention.
“You see, after the rigours of examination, admission and screening, we then deal with the issue of records, and that is when the real and meticulous screening will take place as you cannot conduct the two concurrently, otherwise, you will not be able to complete your admission process within the time specified by the academic calendar.
“At this level, each and every newly admitted student is a potential suspect and it is only a careful verification that will ascertain whether he/she has a clean record or that they have some questions to answer,” the official explained.
“Those that come through UTME are a bit easier to verify, because we use scratch cards to verify their results, but for DE students, where we have thousands of them from different parts of the country, we have to go to their respective institutions to ascertain whether they really attended such institutions and also whether the results were genuinely obtained there.
“In most cases, these institutions turned down our requests on the ground that it has to be paid for, and the persons we dispatched would have to return and a budget has to be made and approved for that, and all that takes time,” he further explained.
He added that the process has to be completed as it is not feasible to treat students individually, saying it was after all those found with one issue or the other are compiled, then a committee would be set up to question such students with a view to giving them a chance to defend themselves.
“At the committee, some students will tell you point blank that they were not the real owners of the results. Some will even go ahead to explain how they acquired them, as in the case of one of the students who admitted that her uncle secured the result for her.
Other students will have the audacity to make all untruthful explanations to defend themselves,” he said.
Thereafter, those found guilty would be expelled, others with lesser offences would be rusticated for a semester or two, and some would be issued a warning letter while those with no fault would be exonerated.
Moreover, the university has set up an appeal committee for any affected student that believed they have a genuine case to appeal and they will be given an opportunity to defend their case one more time.
The chairman of the committee who preferred not to be named explained thus: “The university is concerned and we would not want a situation whereby an innocent student will be mistakenly punished. That’s why the university decided to set up the appeal committee under me and I assure you that any student with a genuine reason can come forward to appeal, if found innocent, they will be exonerated and treated accordingly.”
A student in the last year of his studies in the Faculty of Education, who wouldn’t want his name mentioned, said he took his cell phone to the hall where he was to sit for an examination during which he revised what he read ahead of the exams.
He claimed that when it was time for the exams, he left the cell phone together with his handout at a place and at the end of the examination he forgot his phone which was picked up and used as an exhibit against him.
“It was disheartening as we were barely six weeks to graduation when this happened. My phone is still with the school authority and I was initially told that I will be among those to receive a warning letter. Unfortunately when the list was out, I saw my name amongst the expelled students. Now, with the appeal committee in place, I will appeal to it by God’s Grace,” he said.
Another final year student from the Political Science Department said: “My case was neither falsification of result nor exam malpractice; it was a misunderstanding between me and one of the invigilators during an exam and I was asked to step out of the hall and that became a problem to me.”
“As a Muslim, I considered that as destined from Allah and I accepted it in good faith. I was planning to apply to another institution next year because I have the zeal to study. But since they have set up an appeal committee, I will try my luck.”