Past paper exam 'cheats' off the hook
Twenty students who were banned from writing an exam until November next year because of alleged cheating are off the hook - after the examiner admitted that he had set a question paper identical to one used five years ago.
The students, based at the Ekurhuleni West Public FET College's Kempton Park campus, were banned from writing the N6 fluid mechanics paper, which is scheduled to be written next month, after nine of them scored 99% in an earlier paper written in July.
They were recently informed in writing by the Department of Higher Education and Training's exam's irregularities committee that they had been found guilty of contravening the exam rules.
According to the department, the students' answers were similar to the marking memorandum.
But the students said they had done well because they had thoroughly gone through previous question papers.
Lucas de Lange, examiner of the fluid mechanics paper, this week apologised to departmental officials for setting the same paper he had set in 2005.
"I told them they could fire me . They warned me not to do it again."
De Lange said he had alerted the department to the high marks obtained by students from the Kempton Park campus: "They were head and shoulders above the others."
He said that of the 320 candidates countrywide, the Kempton Park students had produced the best results.
"I don't know how they got to it but they knew which paper was coming out. That's the part that bothers me. I do know that they work through previous years' question papers."
But De Lange admitted that the students had not deliberately cheated. He said he had recommended that the ban be lifted and that the students be allowed to rewrite the paper this year.
One of the students said: "Our only crime was working through past year question papers."