Fake Degrees Scam: Why Mak Has Zeroed On Kyambogo’s Shs 1.5bn ‘Zee Varsity Software’
By Venenscias Kiiza
Makerere University will spend at least shs 1,594,060,000, in a move to find a lasting solution to the management of her online academic records, with the 94 year old institution in the final stages of acquiring Kyambogo University’s “Zee varsity software,” Red pepper has learnt.
According to the leaked confidential report in our possession, the university will spend shs 500m to acquire the Zee Varsity software, shs 200m for 2 months labor to install the system, and shs 800m as annual support. Other expenditures include; shs 18m for system networking (cables, sockets, ports, switches) , shs 12m on CCTV surveillance (DVR/NVR and IP cameras), shs 43.3m on 10 computers( PC’s and UPS’), shs 15m on server discs (hard and RAM discs), and as well shs 5.7m on overtime allowances to six staff members for two months. This brings the whole total to Shs 1,594,060,000.
“Management has assessed the options available and arrived at short term expenditure worth shs 94m to secure the results data and the medium term projection worth shs1.5 billion to migrate data to a secure platform,” reads the leaked document detailing the move.
According to a report titled,‘CRISIS IN MANAGEMENT OF ONLINE ACADEMIC RECORDS’ that was submitted by management to the university council, it’s only this software that can help mitigate the problem. The report, suggests that, the University’s current system was designed and developed internally by personnel from the academic registrars’ department ICT Division cannot be used neither relied on any more.
“Due to lack of password credentials and other challenges, the system can no longer be used, “reads the report. Management has revealed that, it is currently facing a crisis in the management of online academic records, calling for an urgent intervention. The crisis is in the academic registrars’ department on the stalled processing of; academic results, issuance of academic transcripts, processing of online applications and admissions for the new students, among other processes.
This, they say has been brought about by the suspension of the six personnel over the alleged alteration of marks who previously have been manning the ‘ICT DIVISION’ of the academic registrar.
This follows the wide spread change of marks by different officials at the university, where students without fulfilling all their academic requirements had continuously graduated. The vice plunged the 94 year institution into public criticism in February this year when over 56 students were removed from the list at the eve of graduation. The university has since arrested six officials from the academic registrars’ department who are allegedly suspected to have been behind this vice.
WHY MAK HAS ZEROED ON KYAMBOGO’S SYSTEM
“The system has been developed by staff at Kyambogo university and it has been successfully tested widely and used in universities such as Ndejje, Kyambogo itself, Busitema, Nkumba and Muteesa 1 Royal University, “reads the report.
Officials say, at least this system is secure and multifunctional with a number of modules like finance, online applications, academic registrar, timetabling, course structure, provision of transcripts among others.
“The acquisition of the system requires a contractual arrangement (MoU with Kyambogo university, Ministry of ICT, and Ministry of Finance; who are already following this path to extend the system to all public universities),” reads the report in support of the Kyambogo System.
According to a detailed report, the software is modular but integrated with robust academic management system that is highly configurable to fit any context of a university regardless of the size of the university developed over the period of five years. The system is role based, meaning only one person with rights can access system functions and reports according to their roles, being the first level of security.
The system can be configured to fully support multi-branch/college institutions whose branches may be having large distances apart. The system can also work across a WAN with de-centralized or centralized services and components, fully with redundancy. The system has also got an integrated and unified computerized university information management solution designed to automate institution business processes and improve service delivery.
With admissions, according to the report; the system can enable online application and submission of forms, online upload of necessary relevant academic documents, SMS notification, applicants ranking and weighting system, possible integration with UNEB, electronic dissemination of admission letters, customizable admission letter templates, admission reports and as well automated collection of admission fees.
The system on this is said, to enable first time registration of fresh students, student enrolment enforced in the first two weeks to project revenue, class lists can also be generated from known class size which guides in the planning of student management.
“It also provides provisional registration for special category of students such as the statehouse sponsored ones. Reduction of fake teaching loads since it can also enable time tabling, photo management (storage, capture), and optional biometric kit integration for capture of finger prints…” reads the report.
Still with this functionality, it can also support provisional registration based on configured policy, self-registration of continuing students, registration status indicated on student portals, registration reports, managing retakes registration, automatic administration surcharges, such as late registration.
Finance and Payments management
The recommendation report further revealed that, the system has got an integrated real-time payment information management function that according to the university officials bridges the gap between information systems and payment platforms such as banking, mobile money among others. “The system structure is based on student enrolment, it can be linked to the bank through APIs like MAKPAY, strict instructions to the bank not to post offline, have reference numbers attached to every student invoice that expire, auto generation and dissemination of invoices, “the report adds.
Other functionalities include; instant payment notification through Email and Sms, and splits payments. Fees are also attached to a person according to the student status, allows for advance payments, students are able to view their financial status, automatic reconciliation, configuration of receivables, intuitive reports, billing system among others.
Results and Transcripts
According to the report, the system has got a program manager, grading system, results entry where lecturers have got accounts for marks entry as well as academic supervisors,. Lecturers can also be assigned teaching loads and be notified by Email, has got a two factor authentication, can track changes for results through unapproved policy and process.
“With this system, changes can be initiated by students, the system also times out when idle as part of the security measure; it can disseminate results (Email, Print, Portal), and as well registration and results are linked for control purposes,”
The system also can process transcript and testimonial templates, retake and missing marks management, online academic document verification, reports, and as well transcripts is secured by QR-code; enable students to view their marks and as well printing of both transcripts and testimonials.
Officials have also since revealed that, the system has got an online application for the filling of vacant positions, document solution uploads, integration to other applications like finance for payments, results and timetable. It has also got leave and contracts management features.
Officials contend that, unlike the Makerere one, this system uses two factor authentication, access code changes every after 30 seconds, it is operated under a controlled environment(operational terminal are user specific and network secured by static IP credentials). The system has also got scans and checks for behavioral patterns and institutes preventive mechanisms.
We have since established that on Wednesday April 5th, a few members of Makerere university management, led by chairperson of the ICT committee, Dr.DavidTurahi, visited Kyambogo University for further discussion regarding the E-Kampus. Another group was also dispatched to Mbarara University of Science and Technology on 7th April for a presentation, whereby they were all impressed.In order to avoid bias, the report also outlines other software’s/systems under survey, however they have all since proved insufficient given the nature of a university like Makerere.