Public protector says UCT did not err by not conferring PhD on student who 'plagiarised' thesis
A student accused of plagiarism approached the public protector after the University of Cape Town declined to confer a PhD on him
The public protector has found the University of Cape Town did not err by denying a student a doctoral degree because of plagiarism.
Adam Andani lodged a complaint in 2019 claiming improper conduct and maladministration by UCT after its doctoral degree board refused to accept his thesis based on allegations he plagiarised a former law student’s dissertation in 2018.
Andani lodged an internal review with the vice-chancellor on the grounds that the procedure was irregular as a third examiner was appointed to mark the thesis.
After failing in his bid, he approached the ombud to assist in a second appeal to the chairperson of the doctoral board, but the chairperson upheld the decision taken by the board in August 2018.
Andani said the process was flawed when the university nominated and appointed a professor as the third examiner which negatively affected and jeopardised the outcome of his PhD thesis.
“The complainant could not be conferred a PhD on the basis that the examination of his thesis revealed that he plagiarised the dissertation of another former student and therefore did not meet the required proficiency standards of UCT,” acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka announced on Friday.
She said the investigation by her office had found that the allegations of irregularities in UCT's decision not to confer the degree were unsubstantiated.
“The UCT’s decision not to confer a PhD degree to Mr Andani was informed by plagiarism found in his thesis. As a result, the complainant’s thesis was found to have not complied with the required standard of proficiency in terms of section 65B of the Higher Education Act.”
UCT was cleared of any wrongdoing as it had followed the relevant legislative framework, statute, policies and guidelines regulating the examination process and outcomes.
“The public protector, therefore, concludes that UCT followed proper procedures and its administrative action was fair and reasonable, in conformity with ... the constitution ... the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act ... the Higher Education Act and the institute statute of UCT and its policy guidelines in relation to handling of the complainant’s PhD outcome and the complaint lodged on plagiarism and matters related thereto.”
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