UWC creates dangerous precedent with knee-jerk reaction to riotous students

2015-11-16
Dr Pieter Mulder

“It is a sad day when violence at tertiary institutions start to dictate and is seen as a successful method of negotiation. This is unfortunately the message that is being sent out with the University of the Western Cape’s decision to cancel exams, apart from the final year students and to merely evaluate students based on their average year mark,” Dr. Pieter Mulder, leader of the FF Plus said.

“The FF Plus believes that alternate arrangements could be made to allow the exams to proceed. The authorities cannot powerlessly see how a small group of insolent students force their will on the majority of students and personnel. What is happening here dare not be allowed,” Dr. Mulder said.

After the exams, which had to start last week, had been postponed to start early in December, the UWC finally acceded to the pressure of striking students and in a letter on Saturday students were informed that the exams had been cancelled.

The letter amongst others indicates that the decision was taken because a small group of students had made it clear on various levels that they would not allow anybody to write exams. The decision was therefore taken in the interest of the safety of everybody involved.

Dr. Mulder says that should authorities proceed with these types of concessions, it could seriously jeopardize the credibility of the qualifications of the relevant institutions.

It is lamentable that academic excellence has become the victim of anarchy and intimidation. It also sends a wrong and dangerous message to other academic institutions in South Africa, i.e. that a small group of protestors could force their will onto the majority.

What may now be a victory for a small group of students at one university, is establishing a pattern of conduct that could in future harm the whole of South Africa, should it be repeated on all levels.

 

Contact no.: 083 419 5403 / 082 674 6670

 

The letter of the University follows below:

 

FROM THE REGISTRAR’S DESK

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON EXAMINATIONS

The situation at UWC has deteriorated to the point that we are deeply concerned about the continuation of the examination in its current format.

The latest developments at CPUT which threatened to spill over to UWC, together with many claims made by the protesting students, in meetings and on various social media platforms that they WILL NOT allow examinations to take place, have necessitated the University management to deliberate over their decision to continue with examinations on Monday, 16 November 2016. In an attempt to ensure the safety of our students, management, together with deans, deputy deans, other senior academics from the faculties, and endorsed by Senate Executive Committee, have considered alternative ways to allow students to complete this academic year. We acknowledge that this is not ideal, however, given the abnormality of the situation we have no option but to offer students an opportunity that will avoid any personal harm.

The following plan of action has been decided upon:

• All final year students across all faculties will participate in some form of assessment. Where the assessment involves sit-down examinations the venue(s) will be off campus. Please note that a time table with other logistical details will be sent to you by Saturday, 14 November 2015 (by 14.00). At this stage it is envisaged that the current time table for these final year modules will continue to be followed as initially planned, unless otherwise communicated. Supplementary exams will follow this exam session; and Senate Discretionary Assessments (SDAs) will take place in January 2016.

• Students in other years of study (not final year) will be permitted to carry their CAM assessment outcomes as their final results.

• Those students who believe that their CAM status may not be a true reflection of their performance for 2015 may apply to their faculty for an additional assessment to be taken in January 2016, to allow you an opportunity to improve your results. Kindly contact the faculty helpdesk (number below) by Friday, 20 November 2015 during normal business hours.

• Those final year students who are from outside the Western Cape and may have already left for home, and/or those who previously opted to write their exams in January 2016 will be able to take their assessment in January 2016. This time table will be emailed to you in due course.

• Students registered in the following professional programmes should contact their faculty directly for clarity on specifics related to your examinations:

Nursing, Social Work, Dietetics, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Natural Medicine, Biokinetics; Accounting; Dentistry.

Faculty Help Desks:

Arts – 021-959 2152

CHS – 021-959 2852

Dentistry – 021-937 3000

Education – 021-959 2276

EMS – 021-959 3164

Law – 012-959 3291

Natural Sciences – 021-959 3426

All enquiries related to Monday’s examinations can be directed to the University’s Contact Centre on Saturday, 14 November 2015 from 09.00-16.30. The number of the Contact Centre is 021-959 3900/3901. The Contact Centre will operate normally from Monday onwards.

Please note that the graduation ceremonies scheduled for 11 December 2015 have been cancelled.

We sincerely apologise for all the frustration, trauma and stress the recent activities have caused, and wish to assure you that all our efforts have been focused on allowing staff and students to successfully complete the academic year.