‘Missing’ scripts row at open varsity
Some graduating students of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) have kicked against paying N20,000 fine each for their ‘missing’ examination scripts to be remarked. The more than 3,000 students, whose fate hangs in the balance, risk being delayed for an extra year if they do not have complete results. They are praying the Minister of Education and NOUN Chancellor Mallam Adamu Adamu to prevail on the management to release their results. TEMITOPE YAKUBU reports.
How does it sound for a school to ask students to pay for the remarking of missing examination scripts? Bizarre? Well, that seems the scenario at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), a federal school that has campuses and study centres across the country, which has asked about 3,000 students whose scripts were declared missing to pay N20,000 per script to be remarked.
A memo by the school, which asked students to pay before their examination scripts could be marked, is generating ripples. The controversial memo followed the release of second semester results nationwide in which examination scripts of over 3,000 students were said to be missing.
Some students complained that they have about two to three of their examination scripts missing; some more than three. So, a student with three scripts missing will have to pay N60, 000. Most of the affected students, CAMPUSLIFE gathered, are in graduating classes.
If the missing scripts are not graded, it could delay their graduation by one year as the school, according to the memo, ordered the affected students to pay the money or risk an extra year.
By implication, students with more than one missing scripts would have to pay N20,000 times the number of scripts to get the required grades for graduation.
Students have described the development as “a plain extortion”, insinuating that their scripts could have been withheld to extort money from them. They wondered why they had to pay the school for an administrative service. The students want the Minister of Education and chancellor of the school to intervene in matter.
In a memo released on October 19, 2018, the school said: “All students who have issues with their results are to make complaints with their faculty officers between October 22, 2018 and October 30, 2018. They are to write a letter in a tabular format, indicating name, matriculation number, code of missing course, course title, semester in which the course was registered and date of examination.
“Any student with missing results will not be attended to after October 30, 2018. Students are to come with both hard and soft copies of their complaint letter, and attach photocopies of their stamped examination registration slip as evidence they sat for the paper.”
In compliance with the directive, the students in the graduating class went to their respective study centres across the nation to submit their letters in which they expressed disappointment and complained about sloppiness in the school’s handling of examination scripts.
Weeks after, the school did not respond. The students claimed that they called all telephone numbers provided by the school to channel complaints but the calls were never answered; text messages sent to the phone numbers were not replied. Also, the students’ messages to the official email address of the school were not replied.
While students were waiting to get responses to their complaints, the school released the controversial memo on November 21, titled: National Open University Policy of Remarking of Students Examination Scripts and Recomputation of Results.
The memo reads: “All applications for re-marking examination scripts should be addressed to the Registrar through the Study Centre Directors and a copy forwarded to the Dean in the faculty concerned. Applicants must submit the necessary application form at the relevant study centre. Students must ensure that the course(s) code(s) and title(s) is/are correct when completing the form.
“A non-refundable fee of N20,000 is charged per course for the remarking of examination scripts. The said amount should be paid into a bank account designated for the purpose. Students should note that the evidence of payment of the fees must be attached to a completed application form. Also payments without application forms would not be processed.
“The decision to remark is a prerogative of the Faculty’s Examinations Committee. Remarking of scripts shall be completed within two weeks. The new score awarded shall be approved by the dean on behalf of the Faculty’s Academic Board. If a student decides to withdraw his/her appeal before it is considered by the committee, a notice of withdrawal shall be done in writing to make it valid. The Faculty Board shall communicate its decisions to the Senate within a period of 14 days for ratification.”
Majority of the affected students complied and paid the N20,000 for the remarking of their scripts. Weeks after, there have been no action from the school.
At the time of filing this report, the school was yet to release the grades for the remarked scripts and has not responded to any of the students’ requests, raising concerns among the students on what could have become of the money they paid and their missing scripts.
The aggrieved students are accusing the school of extorting them, calling on the Minister of Education, Prof Adamu Adamu, National Universities Commission (NUC), and chancellor of the school, Igwe Lawrence Okolio Chikezie, to prevail on the authorities to release their results.
One of the affected students, Kingsley Mbamalu, described the development as “a daylight robbery”.
He said: “From the way the scenario played out, it was clear the school authorities purposely withheld our examination scripts to extort money from us. How can the scripts of over 3,000 students go missing at the same time and the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu, asked us to pay N20,000 each for the school to remark ‘missing scripts’ and give us a grade? This is unbelievable. We want the minister and chairman of Governing Council, Prof Peter Okebukola, to look into this official daylight robbery.”
Kingsley said the development had dashed the hope of his colleagues, who wanted to use the degree certificates for promotion at their places of work.
The aggrieved students decried the lackadaisical attitude of the school towards the academic pursuit of its students, which they said contradicted the purpose for establishing the institution.
Stephen Obi, a graduating student at NOUN Community Study Centre in Emevor, Delta State, said: “Most of the people studying at NOUN are public officers and workers who want to obtain additional qualifications for career progression. Now, the chances of these people tendering their certificates for promotion this end of the year is slim. They went through pain attending the school; to graduate, it is another period of pain. Who should we hold responsible for this?”
Kola Olaseni, Feyisetan Adesola, Tobiloba Olanrewaju and Damilola Sogbesan of Oyo and Kwara states’ study centres lamented that the withheld results had affected their academic pursuits negatively, noting that their plans to further their studies had been shattered.
The students unanimously criticised what they called “costly blunder” committed by the school’s Management Information System (MIS) and departments concerned with the processing of examination results.
The affected students, comprising undergraduate and post-graduate sets, appealed to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, Minister of Education and NUC to prevail on the school to resolve their complaints, pointing out that the development could delay the graduation of over 3,000 students.
According to the school memo, any of the affected students in the graduating set, who did not pay the N20,000 for the remarking of their missing examination scripts, must register for the courses asa carryover on or before October 26, 2018. The fate of the students is hanging in the balance, as the school is yet to release the results of those that paid the script remarking fee.
In a statement by the Director of Media and Publicity of the school, Ibrahim Sheme, the school clarified the reason for the charges.
Sheme said: “I would like to clarify that NOUN does not charge any unnecessary fees or fancies extorting money from students.
“What obtains in the case is that, when results of examinations are approved and released by the university, any student who feels that he or she ought to have scored higher grades may decide to apply to the university for the remarking of such courses.”
“The procedure is that, such papers will be forwarded to other experts in another university, who are paid together with courier service from the fee the affected student pays for the remarking that he or she has asked for.
“NOUN does not withhold the results of students in order to ask them to pay for marking their scripts. Any delay in releasing results may have been caused by a minor hitch in procedure, but the said fee affects only the student who files an appeal for remarking with the hope that he or she will score a higher grade.”
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