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Cape Town - Some Unisa students suspect their degrees are being compromised because they believe their work is not being graded fairly - and, in some cases, not at all.
Andrew Merryweather - who uses a wheelchair after he was assaulted in 2006 - and his girlfriend Robyn Siebers are studying law through the university.
Merryweather and Siebers submitted identical family law assignments and were expecting similar marks, but there was a 20-percent difference between their marked papers.
“This raised our suspicions, but we put it down to different markers,” said Merryweather.
The couple then wrote an administrative law exam in May. They accessed a past exam paper from Unisa’s website in preparation.
“Every question we got we had seen before in the past exam paper,” said Merryweather. “I was smiling from ear to ear in the exam.”
Merryweather was not smiling when his results arrived two months later, however. He scored 37 percent. Siebers received 50 percent.
Merryweather was shocked, but put it down to being a bad student. Then he saw an exposé on Carte Blanche in August revealing that not all exams and assignments were marked and an average grade was given to an entire pile of papers without marking each paper individually.
“I felt so angry,” said Merryweather. “We have always held Unisa in extremely high esteem. I don’t trust their degree anymore. It has damaged the integrity of the institution.”
Siebers agreed: “It actually feels like you are just buying your degree. It doesn’t matter if you study hard or don’t study at all. You are never quite certain what pile you’ll land in.”
Two other Unisa students told the Cape Argus they had similar suspicions. Charlotte Saunders, who is studying for a Bachelor of Business Administration, said she and her study partners had submitted identical multiple-choice papers, and received different grades. Saunders is concerned about “inconsistency of markers and bad quality marking”.
Another Wynberg resident, who asked to remain anonymous, is studying for a post-graduate certificate in computer integrated education. She queried an assignment she handed in earlier in the year and received the memorandum on Tuesday. She said she discovered inconsistencies in the mark allocation between the assignment brief and the memorandum. She said she also found something was marked wrong and it was correct in the memorandum. She attributed the problem to markers being inexperienced.
Martin Ramotshela, Unisa’s media officer, said on Tuesday that the quality of marking had not been compromised. “The complement of lecturers and markers employed by the university is sufficient to ensure that both qualitative and efficient learning and assessment occurs at all material times.”
He added that the university had taken steps following the Carte Blanche episode.
“Where negligence was found the university has started a disciplinary process and we can confirm that staff members have already been charged.”
Cadet News Agency