Unisa mum over alleged AI and ChatGPT cheating scandal

This is not the first time this year that Unisa has been forced to investigate a cheating scandal. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

This is not the first time this year that Unisa has been forced to investigate a cheating scandal. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 4, 2024


UNISA has remained mum over allegations that it has once again been hit by yet another cheating scandal.

This time around, reports indicate that the scandal involves artificial intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT, which is not allowed by the university.

According to News24, scores of exam scripts of hundreds of Unisa students have been flagged as “disciplinary cases” after it was discovered that AI tools, which were banned for the assessment, were allegedly used.

According to the publication, Professor Tersia Botha indicated that dishonesty reports have been provided by the academic department as well as the College of of Economic and Management Sciences to the university’s Student Disciplinary Unit which oversees such incidents.

“It is disheartening to assess so many exam scripts that have to be flagged as DC cases due to do many similarities,” Botha was quoted as saying.

Attempts to get comment from the university were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

“The Star” was told by the university’s communications department that they were still preparing a statement on this matter.

However, there was no response at the time of close of business following numerous attempts to get comment.

This is not the first time this year that Unisa has been forced to investigate a cheating scandal. In March, reports indicated that Unisa was investigating plagiarism among its students. However, in response, students argued that there were technical glitches with Unisa’s online systems.

Thousands of students were said to be involved in this cheating scandal, following suspected copying and cheating detected by the university’s online testing system.

In another incident following issues with Unisa’s invigilator application, students pointed their fingers at the institution, saying there was indeed a problem with this application.

Last December, students cried foul over the same issues, with those who spoke to “The Star” revealing their frustrations with the university’s invigilator app.

“I also encountered the same invigilator app problem with CSL2601 twice this year. Same problem in May/June exam and now Oct/Nov exams,” one student told “The Star”.

Another student accused the university of withholding her results unfairly after writing her online exams in October.

“On the 4th October this year, we had an English exam. We used the invigilator app, followed every instruction, was never flagged by the app. We submitted on time the correct document, so everything was good, but the results came with a zero mark.”

The distance-learning institution has indicated that it will root out “unethical behaviour” during assessments, with the university saying such actions damage Unisa’s long-standing reputation and undermine the hard work of honest students.

At the time, it was reported that affected students would have to retake their exams.

With the shift from venue-based to online exams, an uptick in cheating and plagiarism cases has been noted.

However, Unisa said previously that the rules of using its online system were carefully explained to all students.

“The invigilator app is a critical proctoring tool used by the university for the invigilation of online examinations. The usage of the app and the attendant rules are very important and necessary to uphold the credibility of our examinations and protect the integrity of our qualifications. It is one of the aspects of the assessment process that the university cannot compromise on.

“Prior to the commencement of the examinations, the rules about the usage of the invigilator app were clearly communicated to all students as part of our online examination rules and guidelines through various communication channels, including email, myUnisa announcements, SMS, and social media,” Unisa said in a statement.

The Star

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