Wits University. Picture: WITS
Wits University. Picture: WITS

I disagree with your headline, More money will not fix higher learning (December 19). Your columnist flags the problems of "students who cannot even string sentences together, most of whom plagiarise extensively".

The University of the Western Cape solved the plagiarising problem in an educational, not punitive, style though turnitin.com. All students have to feed their essay drafts into this search engine, which highlights the cribbed bits in red, and paraphrased bits in green. Students then have to revise their draft essay, inserting adequate referencing, until the search engine is satisfied.

But this requires the university to annually fork out for a hefty campus-wide site licence to this internet provider in forex. So more money is indeed essential to fix higher learning.

To teach students to "string sentences together" — five-sixths have English as their second language — our politics department avoided multiple choice questions and insisted on 10-, later five-page essays in full sentences.

We corrected all spelling and grammar errors in the essays of first-year classes, ranging between 300 to 600 students, in the decades before word-processing programmes were equipped with spell checks and grammar checks.

This ensured students could write grammatically before their graduation. The price we paid was that, by mandatory retirement age, I had only around 35 peer-reviewed publications instead of 100. More money to hire marking assistants will indisputably help higher education.

Keith Gottschalk
Claremont

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