NUST drops pass mark

Exco orders probe into high failure rate
The Namibia University of Science and Technology has found itself in an education quagmire, with blame now being shifted between students and management.
Jemima Beukes
The country’s second-largest university is ushering in a new regime, which will see students who do not meet the pass mark receiving compensatory marks to assist them reach 50%. This new model, however, will only be for students who scored between 45% and 49%.

It is understood that the executive committee of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) is worried about the institution’s high failure rate; so much so that it has since sanctioned a full probe to determine its cause.

There are also talks that the majority of the accounting cohort failed to meet the minimum pass mark during the first semester this year.

This information is corroborated by official NUST documents, which Namibian Sun has seen.

NUST registrar Sifiso Nyathi on Monday wrote a memo to deputy vice chancellor for teaching, learning and technology, Dr Andrew Niikondo, informing him of the compensatory marks system to be introduced.

He said the move was prompted by the “unprecedented failure rate”.

“For the first semester of 2022, undergraduate and postgraduate students who obtained a final mark between 45% and 49% [must] be granted compensatory marks so they attain the required pass mark of 50%.”

With the new model only applying to a maximum of two modules per student, Nyathi and Niikondo were tasked to determine the practicalities of allocating compensatory marks.

“The approval for the compensatory marks was a once-off provision,” Nyathi said.

Compensatory marks will not apply to work integrated learning and theses or dissertations, he added.

Not impressed

A NUST official who spoke anonymously said the council is not impressed with the mooted changes to lower the pass mark and that the proposal was not submitted to it for approval.

“This is a huge decision which can have serious adverse implications on the university. There is no way management can take such a decision on its own.

“We are effectively dropping the standards of the institution. We must have a zero-tolerance policy towards failure,” the official said.

They added: “It seems as if management is worried that if it becomes public knowledge that there is a high failure rate at NUST, people will question the leadership”.

Niikondo declined to comment on the matter, while vice chancellor Dr Erold Naomab did not respond to calls and messages.

Not aware

NUST council chairperson Florette Nakusera said the council is not aware of the move and has not received a proposal in that regard.

"Council is not involved in operational matters, as per good governance principles. This is an academic matter, which according to the NUST statutes is a function of senate, hence you need to contact the university management through the official channels.

“There was no submission to council, [or a] discussion or resolution in that regard."


Namibian Sun 2023-12-07

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