Sat | Feb 27, 2021

CMU graduation free-for-all

Published:Monday | January 25, 2021 | 12:13 AM

An audit of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) registry’s business processes has found that students had been allowed to participate in the institution’s graduation ceremony without actually being graduates.

The eyebrow-raising finding was submitted to the new council of the CMU after the oversight body of the university commissioned a review of the registry’s business processes. The Gleaner has seen a copy of the report.

Deputy registrar of The University of the West Indies, Mona, Johnathan Archie, conducted the extensive audit and submitted his findings to the council on July 14, 2020.

The CMU Act of 2017 states that for the purpose of conferring degrees, diplomas, certificates or other academic or professional qualifications, distinctions or awards, a meeting of the university shall be held, called a congregation.

According to Archie, coming out of an examination of the graduation programme for the Class of 2019 and a sample of the university’s official transcripts, it was noted that the documents bore contradictions.

Explaining, Archie said that for the Master of Science in logistics and supply chain management, there was a student listed in the programme. However, the official transcript dated June 19, 2020, stated that the “final thesis is pending to successfully complete the programme”.

He said that following a separate review of additional documentation, it was observed that there were other students named in the CMU’s graduation list who could not be found in a separate list of students that were awarded a degree or so recognised as completing their programme.

The UWI deputy registrar recommended that CMU “must introduce a policy whereby only students who have been awarded a degree are invited and allowed to participate in the congregation ceremony”.

Additionally, he said that only students who have been awarded a degree should be recognised in the university’s official graduation programme.

Questions were also raised about aspects of CMU’s postgraduate courses.

“It was observed, and of major concern, that it appears that lecturers/examiners do not communicate failures to the registry,” Archie said.

From the sample records reviewed in the registry of postgraduate students, not one failure was observed.

“This is statistically impossible,” Archie stated.

“It appears that given that the formal registration process is not followed, resulting in grades not being recorded in an electronic platform when due, that the lecturers/examiners only communicate a student’s result to the registry when the student has successfully completed the course,” he said.

It was also noted that most, if not all, postgraduate programmes have a dissertation component at the end of the programme.

LANGUISHING STUDENTS

However, despite this requirement, Archie found that there are students who have been languishing for long periods waiting for a supervisor to be assigned.

As a result, the students have completed the taught component of the programme, but have not been formally awarded the degree.

He said that this practice negatively impacts the university’s brand and creates a bad relationship between the university and disadvantaged students.

It was highlighted that examination and assessment of postgraduate courses are evaluated either through projects or written examination. Grades are determined by the appointed lecturer/examiner and sent directly to the registry.

However, Archie noted that the School of Research and Graduate Studies at the CMU was completely excluded from this process.

He said there was no consistency in the timing and method in which grades are transmitted to the registry, which results in inadequate record-keeping. As a result of a lack of registration and courses being clearly defined and developed, grades cannot be recorded and maintained in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System. This results in official transcripts not being prepared and presented with reference to semesters.

Archie pointed out that paper-based grade sheets are used to transmit results. “As a consequence, grades are omitted and student records are incomplete. It also results in inconsistencies in how grades are recorded,” he added.

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