Unisa Faces Challenges With Online Exam Cheating


With the mid-year examinations currently underway at South Africa’s largest university, concerns have been raised as the institution battles with the rising number of students cheating during exams.



Following the switch to online exams in 2020, the University of South Africa (Unisa), has noted an increase in various issues related to cheating, as students were caught taking advantage of exams being administered online.

Students have also expressed that with online assessments it is far easier to cheat on their exams. Furthermore, it is also alleged that some students received help from tutors with their assignments.

Last year, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande commissioned an independent investigation into Unisa’s affairs. The investigation noted that that Unisa should be placed in full administration, citing academic fraud as a primary concern.

The report explains:

The increase in disciplinary cases is caused by students enlisting the help of third parties to complete examinations, assignments, or any coursework. Students are paying for services to complete an exam or assignment.

Professor Wayne Hugo of the University of KwaZulu Natal’s School of Education says this is an issue with distance learning and as more universities around the country are moving to online assessments it needs to be addressed.

Unisa Exam Rules

Meanwhile, ahead of the May/June exam season the university issued a strict warning to students reinforcing the exam rules and regulations. 

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence(AI) software the institution noted that it stictly prohibits the use of any AI programmes (ChatGPT, etc) and online sources (Course Material) during online examination sessions.

Unisa says it has taken proactive measures and continues to use proctoring tools such as the Invigilator App, Moodle, IRIS and Turnitin to secure academic integrity.

“These tools serve the purpose of authenticating identities and identifying any suspicious behaviour that may compromise the credibility of students’ responses during examinations," said the university.

The university added that if a student is found to have been outside the invigilator app for a total of 10 minutes during their examination session, they will be considered to have violated the examination rules and their marks will be withheld.

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Unisa main campus building

In recent years, the Unisa has been unwavering in its commitment to protecting academic integrity and maintaining a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of academic misconduct during assessments.




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