Graduates and academic staff gather outside Jameson Hall. UCT uses race as a proxy for disadvantage in an attempt to redress the imbalance caused by apartheid. Photo: Ian Landsberg

Michelle Jones

Education Writer

TO STAND a “probable” chance of being accepted to study medicine at UCT next year, a white student will need to achieve a minimum average of 78 percent for both the national senior certificate and national benchmark tests.

A black student will have to achieve at least 59 percent, a coloured student 64 percent, a Chinese student 73 percent and an Indian student also 78 percent, according to the UCT admissions policy for 2012.

The application process has begun already, and undergraduates applying to most programmes have until September 30 to enrol. The same deadline has been set for most programmes at Stellenbosch University.

Former white universities are continuing to enforce stricter admission policies for white pupils as they have done for some years in an attempt to redress their racial make-up by accepting more black students.

Both UCT and Stellenbosch University have in recent years dramatically increased the number of students falling into the “black” – African, coloured and Indian – race category as they attempt to mirror the country’s racial make-up.

In the four years from 2005 to 2009, all four universities in the Western Cape increased the percentage of black students accepted and decreased the percentage of white students admitted.

Because of the increase in the total number of students, the number of both black and white students increased at all universities.

UCT’s admissions policy for 2012 sets out its redress strategy of dividing all South African applicants into categories, those who were judged to have been affected by inequality and disadvantage and those who had not been affected.

The university did this by asking applicants to declare which race category they fell into.

The spotlight has long been on UCT’s admission policy, which uses race as a proxy for disadvantage.

Vice-chancellor Max Price has said the university would in time move away from a race-based policy.

“We should accept it in the interim only if there is no better solution and only if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. In my view, this is the case,” Price said previously.

Spokeswoman Pat Lucas said the university had set “aspirational race-based enrolment targets”.

“These are not quotas, or ring-fenced places for applicants from certain race groups. Instead, all applicants have to meet minimum criteria for admission, and it is common that enrolment targets are not met, or exceeded, for different races in different academic programmes.”

In the four years from 2005 to 2009, the number of black students registered at UCT increased from 36 percent to 43 percent of the total university population. At the same time the number of white students decreased from 41 percent to 37 percent. The remaining students were from other countries, the majority on the African continent, and ones who chose not to provide race information.

White students applying to all faculties at UCT have to achieve better matric results in both their national senior certificate and national benchmark tests.

Stellenbosch University aims to increase the number of black – coloured, African and Indian – students to a target of 40 percent by 2016.

Some 33 percent of this year’s Stellenbosch University students were black, spokesman Mohamed Shaikh said.

“University initiatives to increase the number of coloured, African and Indian enrolments include special recruitment drives at targeted schools, offers for scholarships and access to university accommodation, bridging programmes in mathematics and physical sciences, partnership programmes with targeted schools, extended degree programmes with special provision for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

From 2005 to 2009, the number of black students at Stellenbosch University increased from 28 percent to 32 percent of the student population.

During that time, the number of white students decreased from 72 percent to 68 percent.

In certain professional programmes, including the MBChB degree, preference was given to coloured, African and Indian students. White students were then given the remaining available spots.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape do not use race as a criterion for admission.

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