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Monday, November 1, 2004
Nigerian University Revokes Thousands of Diplomas in Crackdown on Academic Fraud
By WACHIRA KIGOTHO
The University of Port Harcourt, in southeastern Nigeria, has revoked the degrees of 7,254 of its graduates in a major crackdown on academic fraud.
The head of the university, Nimi Briggs, said that those stripped of their degrees had either cheated on examinations or falsified their academic records, and that the fraud dated back to the class that entered in 1996.
He said that higher education in Nigeria is rife with corruption and that many students had been admitted into universities with falsified secondary-school certificates. Speaking before the National Universities Commission, which registers new colleges in Nigeria, Mr. Briggs said the quality of degrees and diplomas awarded by Nigerian universities had been eroded by academic fraud and corruption.
Nigerian universities must fight the "vice," he said, or their "legitimate certificates will be rejected internationally."
Mr. Briggs called for an end to academic fraud at all Nigerian universities and said that he has imposed a zero-tolerance policy at Port Harcourt. "Some students have confessed to wrongdoing, begged the university for mercy, and praised the efforts to sanitize the system," he said. "The crackdown will continue to unearth other graduates and students who may have been admitted to the university through unfair means."
Peter Okebukola, head of the National Universities Commission, said the strong demand for a college education in Nigeria had intensified academic fraud there.
According to a recent report by the Exams Ethics Project, a nongovernmental organization that monitors academic testing in Nigeria, cheating on examinations, particularly college-entrance examinations, is widespread. "Academic fraud and corruption is a big business in Nigeria," says the report.
Copyright © 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education