Investigation underway into the alleged leaking of a memorandum at the Wits Medical School.

AN INVESTIGATION into the leaking of examination memoranda is underway at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Medical School Council (MSC)president Tshegofatso Ubisi told Wits Vuvuzela that, “One of the students [in GEMP 1] who was sent the circulating memos came forward and disclosed that they have received the memos of the two exams that were written in the last two blocks [haematology and respiratory system].”

An ad hoc committee of the faculty that was set up recently to review exam procedures and guarantee the credibility of assessments has opened an investigation into the alleged leak. The leaks were the main topic of discussion at a faculty general assembly held on Wednesday, September 13, with the dean of the faculty, Martin Veller, and the Assistant Dean: Teaching and Learning, Professor Lionel Green-Thompson.

Professor Mkhululi Lukhele, the acting Head of School of Clinical Medicine and a member of the ad hoc committee, told Wits Vuvuzela that the matter was brought to their attention “about two weeks ago” during an urgent meeting called by the MSC. He said that the committee confirmed that the respiratory system memo was found to be a post-exam memo, which meant that it had not given an unfair advantage to the students with access to it and it did not compromise the legitimacy of the examination.

The ad hoc committee had asked the MSC for access to this paper after receiving the complaint. “The student made it available to us and we requested a copy so that we could go down to the exams room to check the processes. The way we picked that up [that it was a post review memo] was that the paper which they had had already excluded questions eliminated after the exam,” said Lukhele. The committee did not have access to the haematology memo and has not been able to verify whether it was also a post-exam memo.

Ubisi said, “The main concern is that if there are students who have had exam papers before an exam, it disadvantages the rest of the students. The pass mark could have been set by students who had memos all along and the honest hardworking student has been made to fail.”

Lukhele’s response was that it would have been highly unlikely for the leak to have occurred prior to the exam due to the extensive procedures that have been put into place to prevent this. “It can only be a maximum of four known individuals who would have seen the paper before it is written. Even the director of UUME [Unit for Undergraduate Medical Education] does not have access to the paper,” he said.

He said the leak could have been caused by a student who had gone in to review their paper and managed to print the memo. “During that review, you are just allowed to look at a computer. Most probably, because it is a PDF, someone finished early and printed it out at another location. The second possibility is that somebody could have come into the review room with a memory stick even though the rules say they are not allowed to. Even if we have one invigilator, we have many computers and it would be difficult for them to see everything.”

Leonard Muhango, a sixth-year Medicine student, raised concerns that the Ad Hoc Committee was essentially investigating itself. “The memos were leaked under the watch of this committee and therefore a logical assumption to make is that they were not doing their job.”

Ubisi concurred, saying, “We are in the middle of an inquiry that is looking into a system that was found to have elements of injustice. Again, the same system, whilst being investigated, is found to still have processes that allow students to have access to papers they are not supposed to be having.”

Lukhele acknowledged the students’ concerns about the committee but said, “It is not unfair for the committee to continue looking. In any case, there is a bigger investigation underway, but it is important that there is damage control to prevent leaks going forward because we still need a critical mass of questions for the exam bank.”
There is no indication of when the committee’s investigation will be finalised.



Wits Vuvuzela, July 28, 2017

Wits Vuvuzela, September 01, 2017