A majority of the people are slowly avoiding the traditional classrooms which they are substituting with digitalised learning (eLearning).
With eLearning, students have so many online programmes to choose from and although some are genuine, others are fake with promises of quick, effortless degrees that seem too good to be true.
According to Prof George Nasinyama, the deputy vice chancellor for Research, Innovation and Extension at Kampala International University, people are doing anything they want on the internet since there are no specific rules that govern its usage.
Because of this, he says, there is a possibility of students being conned by online fraudsters who open up different websites claiming to offer some online courses but with an intension of robbing students.
“Unfortunately, some students end up being duped and are left with holes in their pockets but without any legitimate credentials. Students need to be mindful before opting to take on some courses online,” he says.
Prof Nasimanya adds that before taking on an online course, it is important for students to always do some background check about the institution.
“Searching about the institution is vital. In Uganda, you can check with the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the governing body that will help you know if the institution is verified. This can give you a starting point in case of any queries about the institution,” he advises.
According to Hassan Ssematimba, the spokesperson for East African University, students should always avoid online courses that seem so quick. He says legitimate institutions always have a procedure for students to follow in order to get admitted.
“If earning a degree seems so fast and easy, with just a resume being enough for you to get admitted, always ask yourself why. Of course a genuine institution would love to have a look at your academic qualifications and then determine which course to admit you to. A procedure that does not follow that protocol but just admits for the sake may not be legit,” he explains.
He says at East African University, most of the things are done online such as the process of application and payment however, exams are not done online.
“The students apply online; they pay by telegraphic transfers and also study online mostly through live streaming. This live streaming helps with interaction such that the students get the opportunity to discuss with their lectures and the rest of the class,” Ssematimba explains.
He notes that currently, the online learning process also involves some physical contact during exam periods.
“Exams always take place from one center so as to avoid cases of malpractices. Also, in Uganda we have not yet got established testing centers for online exams because of the technological requirements. For now, most Ugandan students that are doing courses always go to Kenya since it has established testing centres,” Ssematimba notes.
Elvis Muyanja an ICT Specialist from Uganda Technology and Management University, says the process of administration always takes approximately four days. He says when students submit their documents online, the university always previews the academic documents that have been submitted such that they determine whether to take them on or not.
The red lights
Muyanja says most fraudsters do not have emails with a domain that matches with the university name.
“The process of getting a domain that matches with the university name is lengthy. Since fraudsters love quick things, they usually prefer the usual emails therefore students need to always pay attention to detail,” he advises.
Muyanja adds that when there is no evidence of student services, students need to also be cautious.
“Legitimate online programmes should have a host of resources available to students including technology and advisory services to students for a complete learning process. If prospective students do not see evidence of those resources, or if they cannot speak to other staff members, then they should be suspicious,” he notes.
Muyanja adds that if the website does not provide any information about the institution but only relies on emails, there should be reason to doubt. “If a programme won’t provide any information about a campus or business address, then students should raise eyebrows,” Muyanja adds.
Similarly, Ssematimba says, before you enroll for an online course, always make background checks so that you can graduate with the confidence that your college or school is really as innovative as they say they are and than the advertisements they display online.
Credit: Daily Monitor