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Kenyatta University revokes lecturer’s PhD over plagiarism


The Kenyatta University has revoked a PhD awarded to one of its lecturers in 2018 after he was found guilty of plagiarising thesis of a senior lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria.

Kenyatta University’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina in a statement said the university has also discontinued the lecturer who teaches in the social sciences department and who has since surrendered the original doctorate degree certificate that had been issued to him.

ACCUSATION

Prof Wainaina said the university received an email complaint in March 2019 from a senior lecturer in Nigeria alleging plagiarism against a KU lecturer.

“The KU lecturer had been awarded a PhD on August 4, 2018 for a thesis he had submitted. Upon receipt of the complaint, the VC set up a committee to review the validity of the claims,” added the statement.

He said the committee handed in its report on April 12, 2019 which confirmed that there was “overwhelming evidence” of plagiarism against the KU lecturer and gave several recommendations of action to be taken.
“The investigations established that the lecturer and a staffer in his department had colluded to circumvent the internal KU mechanism where all thesis are subjected to anti-plagiarism software check when the same is turned in. Even though the thesis had failed the plagiarism check, the staffer had given the thesis the green light,” said Prof Wainaina.

He said the degree was withdrawn and the lecturer was ordered to return the original certificate awarded.

“The certificate has been returned and is in the custody of the University. The lecturer appeared before a student disciplinary committee on the same matter on Thursday September 19th 2019 and was discontinued,” said Prof Wainaina.

ACADEMIC FRAUD

He said the university does not condone academic fraud and takes it mandate seriously by setting high academic standards.

“We will always respond swiftly to incidents where academic fraud has been alleged and take action. The integrity of the certificate issued by Kenyatta University must always be protected and we will always endeavour to uphold the highest academic standards and ethics,” said Prof Wainaina.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) Tuesday welcomed the decision of the university to withdraw the degree.

“The revocation was done as part of the KU’s internal quality assurance process which we applaud,” said CUE Chief executive officer Mwenda Ntarangwi.

Already Jomo Kenyatta University of agriculture (JKUAT) is reviewing 118 PhDs it awarded to students in June this year, after investigation by CUE revealed massive irregularities.

The University was in July given three months to meet and review the PhDs and submit to CUE evidence of the students’ publication of two articles in referred journals for each PhD awarded failure to which the non-conforming PhDs will be recalled until the graduation requirement is fulfilled.

CUE has directed JKUAT to also review all PhDs awarded in the past graduations.

A total of 327 PhD degrees and 2,101 master’s degrees were awarded during the 31st, 32nd and 33rd graduation ceremonies held in June 2018, November 2018, and June 2019.

CUE in 2016, revoked doctorate of philosophy degrees awarded to five students by Kisii University in December 2014.

It also revoked degrees of two students who were admitted into Master Degree programmes at the institution from other local universities irregularly.