More Than 1 400 Unisa Students Flagged For Cheating

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South Africa’s largest university is investigating more than 1000 students for allegedly cheating in their online examinations. Smart technology used by the institution allowed them to detect student dishonesty. 

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The University of South Africa (Unisa) revealed that more than 1,400 are under investigation for academic dishonesty in examinations. More than 6,000 students were implicated in various academic transgressions at the institution, including plagiarism and exam cheating. 

Unisa Directorate for Student Assessments Dominic Molokoena says the use of invigilator applications has helped the university flag students for dishonesty. 

The university uses proctoring tools/insulator applications to ensure the integrity of examinations is upheld. Proctoring tools are online invigilating tools which require a connection to a smartphone, laptop or desktop with a functional camera. All students must use a proctoring tool while they write their exams.

If students fail to use the prescribed proctoring tools or do not prepare devices through a mock examination may lead to withheld results. 

Molokoena explained that these invigilator applications allow the university to record what students are doing while participating in examinations. This has enabled the institution to pick up if students are copying, plagiarising or discussing content in the exciton. 

We apply many tests when we invigilate our students online the invigilator app will actually record students wherever they're sitting so if students are discussing a a content related matter those students affected.

Molokoena adds that the university will also seek confirmation from lectures to ensure that students are discussing content related to the tests. This allows them to take appropriate action if students are being dishonest. 

From our point of we also get confirmation from the academics that it is related to the content itself. 

They add that while it is not against the rules to sit near other students while participating in exams or assessments, students are not allowed to discuss their answers with one another. 

Students who are sitting together were able to catch them out because it is not an offence to be sitting together however if what you are submitting looks like plagiarised work or you are copying from one another we will then flag you for that.

Prof Solomon Magano says the high number of students investigated for cheating creates the sense that there is widespread cheating at the insulation. However, they say the high number of students cheating is directly related to Unisa’s enrollment figures. 

There is a sense because of the enormity of the enrollment size that the figure might be big but when you look at it relative to the size of the enrollment it is somewhat minuscule 

Pending Unisa Administration

Alleged widespread cheating was one of the factors considered by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande when he decided to place Unisa under administration. However, legal action taken by the university forced the minister to withdraw his decision

Head of Unisa’s legal department Vuyo Peach says if the courts reject Unisa’s review application then an administrator may take up their position at the country’s largest university. 

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