Makerere University has been criticised for delaying to release graduandsâ€™ academic transcripts. Recently, however, the university introduced a system whereby candidates apply to graduate, and which will enable them to have their transcripts on graduation day. Arthur Baguma writes
THE tedious process of acquiring a transcript at Makerere University might soon come to an end. Effective next academic year, all graduands will walk away with their certificates and transcripts at graduation.
The university plans to roll out the globally accepted graduation audit process, a standard yardstick for graduations in many international universities.
In the developed world, a student must apply for a graduation audit to be eligible to graduate. The audit is initiated by the submission of an â€˜Application for a Graduation Audit Formâ€™. The audit, conducted by a graduation auditor in the office of the registrar, is a process by which a studentâ€™s academic record is examined to make sure all university obligations and academic requirements for the degree have been met.
The result of oneâ€™s graduation audit is sent by email about eight to 10 weeks after the application has been received.
Gilbert Kadilo, the Makerere public relations officer, says the university is instituting a similar principle effective October.
â€œItâ€™s the normal clearing process and no additional cost will be charged. The normal functional fees - graduation, convocation, transcript and certificate fee will apply,â€ says Kadilo
By the end of October, finalists are expected to have finished clearing with all relevant faculties and departments and cleared all the fees.
The university will then have two months (November and December) to verify and come up with a clean graduation list. Kadilo says by the end of August, all studentsâ€™ marks will be displayed to enable students clear any issues that usually arise, like missing marks.
However, critics are questioning the feasibility of this system, citing the long tradition of Makerereâ€™s bureaucracy.
Robert Rutaro, the guild president, says the move is too good to be true. â€œI donâ€™t want to believe their idea; it sounds too good. Until I get a good explanation, I am not sure of the motive behind this,â€ Rutaro says, adding that you cannot tell a student to apply to graduate when they have been students for three years and when they owe the university nothing. He argues that graduating is the right of every final year student who has passed and cleared all university dues.
â€œHow is it feasible that they will be able to process thousands of transcripts and verify them in a short time; when they havenâ€™t processed the few transcripts of some students who graduated several years back?â€ he asked.
Students have echoed similar sentiments since the decision was announced. â€œThis is ridiculous! How does a student reach the end of the final year without meeting the requirements to obtain a degree? If a student has failed his final year papers, it is automatic he cannot graduate,â€ remarked one student.
However, Kadilo argues that this measure is for the good of the students. He says: â€œIt will also mitigate forgery because transcripts will be processed at a go and serialised.â€
An investigation by a committee of deans last year reported that some officials in the Academic Registrarâ€™s office were involved in the forgery of transcripts in exchange for money. The committee, chaired by the Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology, Dr. Venansius Baryamureeba, noted: â€œAll indications revealed that cases of forgeries and extortion of money from graduates exist and some officers in the Academic Registrarâ€™s department are involved.â€ The committee found that transcripts were forged in Wandegeya, on William and Nasser roads in town, while others were forged at the university.
Some universities are already using the audit system. Uganda Christian University Mukono spokesperson Vincent Mugaba said since 2000, all graduands have been getting their transcripts on graduation day. â€œWe put all results in a data base. Everything is computerised and lecturers know the deadline for submission of results. We have been using this system since we passed out the pioneer graduands,â€ Mugaba said.
Education experts argue that though the implementation of this system is ambitious for Makerere, in light of the enormous numbers of students who graduate, the university authorities should be given time to implement their decision.
Fagil Mandy, an education consultant, says: â€œI think the best thing is to leave them and see. They have made a commitment. They have said someone will walk away with a transcript on graduation day. So let them streamline the whole process. It is a litmus test for them, letâ€™s wait and pray for them to succeed,â€ Mandy says.
Kampala International University is also planning to implement the system. At the moment, the university issues transcripts and certificates one week after graduation. â€œWe are working on a new system. When itâ€™s implemented, our graduands will gett their certificates and transcripts on the day of graduation,â€ Dr. Sadiq Yusuf, the deputy vice-chancellor in charge of academic affairs, noted.
In the developed world, the graduation application is done on line and the entire exercise takes just four to eight weeks. Critics argue that it is unlikely that Makerere can execute similar efficiency using a manual system to sort out results of thousands of students.
The decision for final year students to apply for graduation was taken by the Senate, the universityâ€™s top academic body.
In a June 1 circular, the academic registrar, Amos Olal-Odur, said the decision would speed up the processing of studentsâ€™ transcripts and certificates.
Students opting to graduate this year are expected to submit their application letters before November. â€œThe Academic Registrarâ€™s office needs the months of November and December to verify the documents of students who have applied for graduation. It is our hope that students can to go away with their transcripts immediately,â€ Kadilo explained.
Previously, final year students would finish their examinations and wait for graduation week to make final clearances and get their transcripts months later.
Makerere University to give out transcripts at graduation