NMU students suspected of cheating exams ask court to stop re-write
AN URGENT application brought by a group of Nelson Mandela University (NMU) students to stop the university from carrying out re-examinations following suspicions of cheating has been dismissed by the Eastern Cape High Court.
The 10 applicants are final-year students studying degrees in either construction management or quantity surveying.
According to court papers, the students launched an application, on an urgent basis, to seek orders interdicting the university from proceeding with an exam which was scheduled to take place on February 24. However, by the time the students had served the university with the application, the re-examination had already been written.
The group of students are all enrolled in Accounting module RSS102: Accounting for Construction Students – Accounting 1 Special. Owing to the declaration of the National State of Disaster under the Disaster Management Act, universities were forced to extend the academic year and move to online learning.
NMU used Moodle learning management site where students could access learning material; write online tests, and upload written tests and exams on a remote-based approach. Exams would be released on Moodle and students would write their manuscripts, scan and upload the exam before a cut-off time.
“The university picked up a significant discrepancy between certain students’, including the applicants’, class marks and examination results.
“On closer inspection, it appeared that the students answered the questions with identical wording and layout, and made identical errors,” the court papers stated.
An investigation was launched but in the meantime, pending the investigation process, the students were given an opportunity to re-write the exam on February 24 and again on March 12.
“In the event of a guilty finding in the disciplinary proceedings, the applicants, even if not sanctioned with expulsion, will at the very least have to redo the relevant module as a consequence of having been stripped of their January 2021 result/s,” the court papers stated.
Acting Judge T Zietsman said the students had not made out a case for interdictory relief.
“In my view, the applicants’ constitutional right to further education has not been infringed in any way.
“The applicants launched the present application, on an urgent basis, and prematurely I might add, after the re-examination had already been conducted. They elected not to write the re-examinations and wait for the investigation and/or disciplinary process to be finalised. The decisions which the applicants seek to challenge are in any event either moot or have not yet been taken.”