MASERU — More than 100 National University of Lesotho (NUL) students failed to graduate yesterday after they were caught cheating in their final examinations.
NUL, the country’s highest institution of learning, had 2 298 students graduating with degrees, diplomas and certificates yesterday.
However, final-year students who were among the over 200 caught cheating last semester met their comeuppance when they failed to graduate.
The cheats — in various fields of study — also included third-year students.
Most of them were caught by invigilators while copying from “notes smuggled into exam rooms”.
NUL Student Representative Council secretary-general Stephen Letuka said he was aware of 50 cases of students who were allegedly caught copying.
“I am not sure of the number of cases but I at least managed to count up to 50,” he said.
After they were caught, NUL authorities barred them from enrolling with the university for periods ranging from one to two years.
Some, however, appealed to the university authorities.
Others took their cases to the High Court.
But NUL, although it had agreed to relook at some of the cases, had by yesterday’s graduation ceremony not dealt with the appeals.
This meant at least 100 of the cheats were not part of the graduands at the Roma-based university.
NUL Council chairman, Dr ’Molotsi Monyamane, confirmed the cheating scandal.
He however said the majority of the students pleaded guilty before the university’s senate and were “sentenced accordingly”.
“I am aware that some have appealed and their appeals may be pending before the panel appointed by the council,” Monyamane told the Sunday Express.
Letuka Molati, a lawyer representing four of the students whose appeals are pending before the panel, said one of his clients was in the final year.
“We are happy that the council has agreed to hear our appeals but one of my clients who was in his final year does not know what to do because by now we should have been heard and the case finalised,” he said on graduation eve.
Letuka however said those who took their cases to the High Court had obtained orders lifting the university’s decision not to enrol them for the current and next academic years.
“I personally know six students who are currently attending classes after obtaining the court order,” he said.
Efforts to contact NUL registrar ’Masefinela Mphuthing were not successful.
Meanwhile NUL yesterday saw 24 percent increase in the number of graduands compared to last year.
The university, marking its 35th convocation, conferred certificates, diplomas and degrees to 2 298 graduands.
Last year 1 850 students graduated from NUL.
In his opening speech, NUL’s acting vice-chancellor, Professor Molati Sebatane, bemoaned the university’s lack of resources to create programmes relevant to the job market.
NUL Chancellor, His Majesty King Letsie III, urged the university to market itself to attract financiers instead of relying on dwindling government coffers.
“As a public institution, NUL has over the years depended heavily on government subvention,” King Letsie III said.
“The university must proactively and aggressively market itself and enhance its image by taking conscious steps to be more visible.”