Cape Town - The Council of UCT has passed the university’s new admissions policy with a majority vote in spite of objections by the student representative council.
Other indicators for disadvantage aside from just “race” would now be taken into consideration when deciding on student applications.
The applicant’s home language, parents’ education, whether the family was receiving a social grant and other factors would now be considered.
This was expected to come into effect for the 2016 intake.
The council met on Saturday to vote on the contentious issue after a senate recommendation two weeks previously that the new policy be adopted.
According to the UCT website, the “exact weighting to be assigned to such indicators and further details of the proposed new admissions policy” would be determined only after the council decision.
SRC president Nommangaliso Gondwe, who was at Saturday’s meeting, said they did not agree with the decision.
“It was quite disappointing for us. The students’ view was that the policy should be unchanged. I felt they didn’t really consider our view. We were outvoted but nonetheless we will be watching and seeing what this decision will mean.”
She said it was felt race was still the most important factor to consider and it was a concern that details of the policy had yet to be decided.
Gondwe said she expected there would be a “reaction from students” as the issue “created a lot of emotion”.
More than two years ago, UCT called for public comment on its admissions policy, which asked would-be students to state their race.
The university’s 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.
Luntu Sokutu, a member of the UCT Progressive Youth Alliance admissions policy task team, said the policy had been changed to suit those in “top management positions” who wished to “keep the university white”.
Alliance members include the ANC Youth League, Young Communist League of SA, SA Students’ Congress and Congress of SA Students.
“If this was a genuine move on the part of council, it is an extremely naive one if they think their new model will foster redress and maintain racial diversity in the institution. We know however that it is not genuine, it is to please white donors and affluent white families whose children don’t get offers at the university.”
He said the alliance would call for intervention to ensure council did not “succeed in preserving the university for the white minority in the country, and thus deny access to black, coloured, and indian population groups, as it was in the days of apartheid”.
The Higher Education Transformation Network yesterday slammed the council decision. The network’s Hendrick Makaneta said it was against the change in policy as “black students will be affected in the long run”.
“We are quite unhappy. We want the current policy to stay in place. We will call on UCT to sit down with all stakeholders, particularly the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance), to find solutions.”
The network, formed about three years ago, described itself as “an independent network of alumni from various higher education and further educational institutions”.
It had previously said UCT was not committed to transformation and was attempting to exclude black students.
UCT spokeswoman Riana Geldenhuys said the university would comment on the matter tomorrow.