Students who apply for deferred examinations with fraudulent medical certificates may face serious consequences.

An investigation conducted by Wits University has revealed that a number of medical certificates submitted by students as part of their deferred examination applications are fraudulent. This is according to Nicoleen Potgieter, the deputy registrar at Wits, who said that the investigation was initiated after a spike in the number of these applications.

In an email sent to the student body on Monday, September 17, Wits registrar Carol Crosley said, “It has come to the attention of the University that some students are submitting fraudulent medical certificates in support of their applications for deferred examinations.” Students may apply for a deferred exam if they are unable to sit for a normally scheduled exam if they provide legitimate reasons.

Students who submit or are in possession of fraudulent medical certificates could potentially face exclusion from the university and possible imprisonment and criminal record, according to Crosley’s statement.

Potgieter told Wits Vuvuzela that students were submitting false medical certificates across all faculties and that the number of students from each faculty varies. She added that in one case, a Wits student has been reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for forging a doctor’s certificate.

Muhammed Patel*, a Wits student, told Wits Vuvuzela that he has previously submitted a medical certificate under false pretences.

“I genuinely was not ready for my paper, and third year is a lot of pressure. It was also strategic, because then my year mark counts for less as compared to if I would have written it, it would have brought my average down,” Patel said.

“Other universities give you a chance to write a second paper as compared to Wits if you are not ready,” he added.

Potgieter said that, “The University is reporting doctors who issue fraudulent medical certificates to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).”

She added that the university was in the process of developing a new, standardised medical form which would help to quickly identify legitimate certificates from fraudulent ones.

*name has been changed.

FEATURE IMAGE: Wits is clamping down on students who submit fraudulent medical certificates. Photo: File