Degrees Of Concern At University

Farouk Chothia

THE University of Durban-Westville awarded degrees to 16 students at a graduation ceremony earlier this year — despite the fact that the students had not completed their courses.

In a statement distributed on the campus last week, deputy vice-chancellor Professor John Butler-Adam said initial investigations had found that 11 students had been awarded degrees “improperly”, but the figure has since risen to 16.

Butler-Adam said that of the initial 11 students, nine had re-registered for their outstanding courses more than two months before their “graduation” in May. He did not disclose how the students had been falsely awarded degrees.

In another damaging disclosure, Butler-Adam suggested there had been mismanagement in the university’s Financial Aid Bureau.

Butler-Adam said the bureau’s head, Thandi Kgosidistsi, was on sick leave.

He identified among the problems the fact that “payments for students boarding privately were made without ensuring that the students were in receipt of financial aid” and that some landlords had received double payments.

He added that the university’s auditors had been alerted and would submit a full report. Steps had already been taken to ensure the problems did not recur.

Campus sources revealed this week that the problem was so acute a donor group, the University Scholarships for South African Students, had severed ties with the bureau earlier this year.

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