Minister of higher education and training Naledi Pandor has vowed to work closely with Universities South Africa to help institutions guard against assaults on academic integrity. This came after the alleged degree fraud at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Zululand.
“Academic integrity of our academic qualifications is fundamental to our university system. All universities from around the world are at risk from these issues but I don’t believe that these problems are widespread here.
“It is clear that there are criminals outside and within our university system who will stop at nothing to use our universities for financial gain. I will not allow our universities to be captured,” Pandor said.
Pandor said she has also noted the reports circulating about the sale of student places and irregular awarding of qualifications at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
“The institution has kept me briefed about the work it is doing to bring those responsible to book. This also includes university staff members who may have collaborated with criminals for financial gain,” Pandor said.
In May this year, Professor Gregory Kamwendo from the University of Zululand was allegedly murdered as he was working hard to protect the integrity of academic qualifications and strengthen the quality of the academic project at the university.
“We now know his murder may have been linked to the work he was doing. We live in a violent society and universities are no longer ivory towers. We owe it to Professor Kamwendo and his family and many other committed academics in our university system to deal decisively with the criminals involved.
“I assure you I will work constructively with our institutions to maintain the integrity of our academic qualifications and to ensure that our students are receiving the best possible opportunities for learning,” Pandor said.