The affordable education loan option
Cape Town - A group of UCT students has started a petition which calls for the university’s admissions policy to remain unchanged.
UCT was expected to decide whether to change its admissions policy which uses race as a proxy for disadvantage next month - and if so, how to change it.
The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) - made up of the ANC Youth League, Young Communist League of South Africa, South African Students Congress and Congress of South African Students - started the petition after noting with “disappointment and sadness” the possibility of the race-based policy being scrapped.
The petition went live on Friday.
More than a year ago, UCT called for public comment on its admissions policy which asked students to state their race.
The UCT council and vice-chancellor Max Price had repeatedly said the inclusion of race in the admissions policy was undesirable and that alternative proxies for disadvantage should be found.
It had been suggested that whether parents or grandparents had tertiary education, which school pupils had attended, whether they were a beneficiary of a social grant and what language they spoke at home should all be taken into account.
Luntu Sokutu, a member of the UCT PYA admission policy task team, said an attitude had emerged at UCT which sought to question and disapprove of the use of race as a proxy for disadvantage.
“This attitude has also been coupled with a flawed notion that the emergence of few black middle class families has led to the ability of black people as a whole to buy their way out of ‘disadvantage’. As a result ‘race’ is argued to be less reliable compared to a set of patronising socio-economic indicators, which are earmarked to achieve redress and create a diverse student body.”
Sokutu said it was hoped all South Africans would sign and distribute the petition, which had already received overwhelming support.
”In a space of three days from the launch of the petition, hundreds are joining in not only signing but also popularising the petition.”
Thandabantu Nhlapo, acting vice-chancellor, said the university welcomed all admission policy comments and inputs.
“UCT is not abandoning race as a factor in determining past and present disadvantage and remains fully committed to transformation in higher education. We have simply discovered over the years that the issue is infinitely more complex: apartheid’s attack on the dignity of black people was mounted at a variety of levels, leaving a legacy of many sites of disadvantage.”