Court upholds lecturer’s sacking for letting absent students pass exam


Free Malaysia Today
Tati University College, based in Kemaman, Terengganu, awards diplomas and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, computer science and information technology. (Tati UC pic)

PETALING JAYA: The sacking of a university college lecturer has been upheld as justified, with the industrial court finding her guilty of giving marks to three absent students and failing to grade three others present at their semester final examination

The court held that on the balance of probabilities, the 53-year-old lecturer was guilty of all four charges preferred against her by Tati University College of Terengganu, a state-owned higher education institution.

The university college, based in Kemaman, comprises two faculties which award diplomas and degrees in computer science, information technology, and engineering. It began in 1993 as the Terengganu Advanced Technical Institute.

Industrial court chairman D Paramalingam said in the judgment dated June 20 that the lecturer’s “misdeeds cannot be viewed lightly”.

“Her actions are very serious because they can affect the future of the students, some of whom depend on scholarships, loans from the National Higher Education Fund and the public services department,” Paramalingam said.

The lecturer, who was with the engineering faculty, started working with the college in 2014 on annual or six-month contracts until her services were terminated six years later.

Paramalingam said the lecturer’s actions could have spoiled the institution’s good name and image if the Malaysian Qualifications Agency and Sirim had found out about her actions during the certification audit.

During the trial, a college official told the court that the errors had been rectified. The case involved the six students and another instance in which the lecturer wrongly graded the group work of several students.

The court was told Tati University College held a domestic inquiry on March 20, 2020 and found the lecturer guilty of four charges preferred against her. The college rejected her replies to the points raised in an earlier show cause letter, and terminated her services a month after the inquiry.

The charges against here were of:
– Awarding B grades to two students and a B+ to another in the Malaysian studies paper, despite their absence from the second semester final examination;
– Failing to grade three other students in the same examination;
– Preparing wrong answer scripts for the same examination; and
– Failing to mark answer scripts but awarding grades.

After her termination, the lecturer took the university college to the industrial court, claiming wrongful dismissal.

At the hearing, which ended in December last year, witnesses submitted copies of unmarked scripts for which grades were awarded, and others with similar answers but differing scores.

“However, the university college later reviewed the papers she marked and the correct grades were awarded,” a witness said.

The university college also submitted that the lecturer had been verbally warned twice in the past for placing the wrong cover page for an examination paper and giving a “like” on a social media post that could mar the institution’s image.

“Being a staff member who can be categorised as a senior lecturer, the claimant should actually set a good example for other employees,” the court was told.

In her defence, the lecturer said the university college had overburdened her by assigning her to duties beyond her contract as a lecturer without any additional allowances.

The duties included those of student affairs senior officer and proficiency training centre trainer, which she said interfered with her duty as a lecturer.

“It was not fair on the university’s part to task me with these extra duties, because they were burdensome in addition to my duties as a lecturer,” she said.

The lecturer alleged that the online system for registering student grades was faulty.

Paramalingam, who agreed with Tati University College on all the charges against the lecturer, said the court could not accept her claims of a faulty online system as she failed to provide proof.

“Her decision to give marks to the three absent students calls into question her integrity as a lecturer,” he said, adding it was her duty to verify if the students were present during the examination. - FMT

Court upholds lecturer’s sacking for letting absent students pass exam