The University of Botswana (UB) was over the last two weeks under the radar of both the DCEC (Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime) and the DISS (Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services). The two agencies are investigating a myriad of allegations levelled against UB, which if busted could provide an explanation as to why standards and quality at the university have been slipping over the last few years.
Top on the administrative divisions that are being investigated at UB is that which is responsible for students’ admissions. Information picked by law enforcement agencies indicates that the university has been systematically and routinely admitting students that did not meet the academic threshold while rejecting those that qualified. This, it is believed, is because some officers at the admissions department have been receiving bribes to admit such students especially for the much fancied Business and Law Degrees at the University.
A member of the university who is conversant with what is going on said it was a good thing that finally the university has fallen under the radar. She said corruption was the reason why the university has been posting dismal results, as students are often admitted for courses that they do not qualify for, and end up failing dismally.
“This has been going on for some time at UB,” he said.
Another member of staff at the university blamed high incidents of fake admissions on the fact that the Admissions Department is managed by low ranking officers, who are not only easily corruptible but also have limited in-depth understanding of the value of accepting the right students into the rights courses. He said many of the staff members employed at the Admissions Department do not have tertiary qualifications.
Another element of interest for DCEC and DIS at UB is the Human Resources Department where a senior staffer is being investigated for employing friends and relatives. It has also been established that less deserving academic staff members have routinely been promoted over more deserving ones. This had had the net effect of demoralizing the more deserving staff.
“In the past UB’s employment and promotions system was one of the most robust in Africa. Thanks to the rot that has been going on we now have senior members of staff who are failing to cope with their responsibilities. When you add that to students who are not supposed to be here, it has become an explosive mix. We have students who are not coping and senior academic staff who are themselves not coping because they were promoted under dubious circumstances,” said a member of the academic staff.
He said the quality of research and teaching at the University of Botswana has in the recent years taken a nose dive, with some top notch academics choosing to allow their contract to elapse without seeking renewal. Relations among the university’s top executives are also reported to have collapsed, with some executives literally not talking to each other at the campus administrative headquarters.
“I know some of them can’t wait to see the end of their contracts. They are fed up,” said another insider.
Still on the human relations aspect it is said that some foreigners are coerced to become departmental heads and threatened with non-renewal of contracts if they decline. This has had the cumulative effect of appointing into administrative roles, people who are disinterested, and in some instances outright incapable because those who are capable are not in the good books of the university leadership.