Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) has acknowledged that it was aware of cheating by some university students required to submit research papers before graduating, saying it has already formed a team to investigate the scam and come up with recommendations to stop the vice.
TCU Executive Secretary Prof Sifuni Mchome told The Guardian yesterday in an exclusive interview that the commission had already noticed lots of academic cheating by both teachers and students in various higher learning institutions in the country.
He said that the team which comprises of TCU staff, police, officials from the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and university lecturers, began work in September last year and is expected to come up with recommendations by March this year.
Its main task is to study the extent of academic cheating in higher learning institutions and recommend solutions to end the scam.
Prof Mchome revealed that between 2010 and 2012 at least 165 university students were dismissed from studies due to various academic cheating.
The TCU boss acknowledged that cheating went on in various universities in the world, but according to him developing countries have managed to control the habit.
He cited Pretoria University in the Republic of South Africa as one among the universities which have managed to control academic cheating by using controlled computers which monitor students when doing their academic work at the varsity.
He said the use of the controlled computer systems minimises costs and also reduces the need of having many supervisors whereas most of them lack integrity in their work.
“The controlled computer system is costly with a lot of technological challenges but we must start using it in order to preserve the quality of education in higher learning institutions,” he said.
A teacher from one of professional colleges offering diplomas in Dar es Salaam who preferred anonymity was surprised at the fact that some university students did not defend their research papers personally, a fact which help curb cheating.
Academicians are concerned that the ugly practice is dangerous as it undermines professionalism.
According to an assessment conducted by this reporter in higher learning institutions in Dar es Salaam, Iringa and Mwanza regions, it was discovered that while some students work hard to prepare their research papers, the majority of them have been using money to get the ‘already made’ papers.
Speaking to The Guardian in separate interviews, some students said that there are special groups of conmen specialized in preparing and selling research papers at the cost of between 400,000/- and 600,000/- per dissertation.
According to them, after having bought the papers the students only embark on editing the work to suit their subject of choice as well as the varsity style.
On Monday this paper reported that there are some students graduating from various universities in Tanzania who reportedly have been buying ‘research papers’ from friends, relatives and even conmen, which are then submitted as original work to their lecturers.