IUM in Fake Degree Scandal

A LECTURER at the International University of Management was suspended for questioning the circumstances surrounding the awarding of degrees to three students in the Faculty of HIV-AIDS Management.

Ben Fuller, the faculty dean, raised an alarm when he discovered discrepancies in the awarding of degrees to Sydney Lulanga, David Akuunda and Verlistars Shamwazi.

The Namibian is reliably informed that Fuller was suspended for circulating e-mails before he had checked his facts concerning the said fake degrees.

Fuller declined to comment on the scandal on Friday, while efforts to get his confirmation on the suspension were unsuccessful yesterday. The university said he was not on campus when The Namibian called looking for Fuller’s contact details.

IUM founder, the Minister of Education, David Namwandi, told The Namibian on Tuesday that he has ordered the vice-chancellor, Virginia Namwandi, to investigate the issue as a matter of urgency.

Namwandi also said he would not tolerate fake qualifications at the university.

“I ordered the vice chancellor to investigate these cases the day I found out. I expect a preliminary report on 5 December and a final report on 15 December. The truth must come out,” Namwandi said.

According to an email written by Fuller to the vice chancellor for academic affairs and research, Professor Fred Opali, dated 14 October 2014, he described the situation of one of the students as ‘chaotic’ and expressed doubt and confusion over students’ records in his faculty.

Opali yesterday said that Fuller was on suspension and that he could not comment on the fake degrees because the issue is still being investigated.

He said the name of one of the students, Lulanga, does not appear on the academic records yet he was awarded a degree.

“Much of this chaos revolves around incomplete records of the students admitted to the programme as well as their status. There have been attempts to fill this gap by developing as complete a list as possible of outstanding MA students. During all of those efforts, Mr Lulanga’s name has not appeared,” Fuller’s email reads.

He also said Lulanga was involved in the university’s management in a capacity where he had access to student records, adding: “Ensuring that his name was properly recorded in the student database should have occurred.”

Fuller challenged Lulanga to provide proof of his registration at the institution. The Namibian could not reach Lulanga for comment this week.

Akuunda allegedly plagiarised his entire thesis word for word from the work of a Stellenbosch University student in May last year and was awarded a zero.

The Namibian has it on good record that Akuunda is employed as a lecturer at the institution’s Ongwediva campus, despite his plagiarism history.

In another email, Fuller requested Akuunda to appear before a disciplinary committee after his plagiarism was discovered and brought before management last year.

Contacted on Tuesday, Akuunda said he “does not respond to nonsense”.

“Why don’t you get clarity from the person who gave you the information?” asked Akuunda, before ending the conversation.

The institution is also investigating Shamwazi, who reportedly applied at IUM for a teaching post in the Faculty of Humanities, HIV-AIDS Sustainable Development.

As part of her job application, Shamwazi presented a Master of Science degree in HIV-AIDS Management, allegedly awarded by the institution last year.

Checks to verify the authenticity of the degree, led to the discovery that Shamwazi has no academic record at IUM.

“This comes as a complete surprise because the faculty has not had any contact with Ms Shamwazi, neither does it have any record of her submitting a MA thesis, project proposal or any other documentation,” said Fuller in one of his emails.

Fuller did, however, acknowledge that Shamwazi’s name appears on the list of students enrolled at the institution, but that the university had no record about her progress.

“The exams department has no record of who supervised this student, who marked the MA thesis, nor who moderated the mark,” wrote Fuller.

In the email, Fuller said Shamwazi’s fake qualification was the third example found in recent months of an MA degree in HIV- AIDS Management being awarded, where the Faculty has not recommended that award.

“We face a situation that can cause serious harm to this institution and damage the good work done by so many committed students and teachers,” Fuller said.

Source : The Namibian