Cape Town - A number of dental technology graduates from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) have been left in limbo as their qualifications are deemed useless.
The graduates cannot find employment as they are not registered with the South African Dental Technicians Council (SADTC). The university is not the only institution facing this dilemma; Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and Durban University of Technology (DUT) graduates are also left in limbo.
The SADTC only approves the qualification awarded by the universities but for the first time since the qualification has been accredited, the SADTC decided to assess the student’s work and failed them all after CPUT appointed external and internal examiners that passed the students.
“All the 2020 and 2021 students that graduated from the institution are still not registered with the council,” explained Sibongile Ntlanganiso.
“They should be approving the qualification awarded by the institutions but they came with a new rubric which is unfair because the institutions have its council, qualified moderators that oversaw the exams. The council people spent a few hours with our papers and decided to fail us.”
The National Diploma in Dental Technology will be phased out by the end of 2023. CPUT currently still has some second and third-year students in the programme.
Some of the graduates who managed to find employment work as assistants while they wait for a solution to their challenges.
Tsepo Ndili will be graduating this December but is also not registered, he said his qualification will seem meaningless.
“It is like I wasted my time studying. The university tried coming up with alternatives like working as lab assistants or looking for work abroad but I feel like they are not dealing with the issue.”
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley confirmed that SADTC went beyond just approving the qualification and registering students but marked and failed them despite internal and external moderators passing the students.
“CPUT along with TUT and DUT has been in consultation with Universities South Africa (USAf), an umbrella body representative of the 26 public universities in South Africa to mediate the process with the SADTC.”
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) said it was concerned about the dilemma facing graduates from the three universities. The department said it convened a meeting with the Council on Higher Education (CHE), South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and USAf to get a common understanding of the situation and collectively agree on a way forward to address the plight of dental technology students.
“It was agreed that meetings will be requested with the Department of Health and SADTC in the short-term to address and resolve matters raised by the students and universities of technology; and in the medium-to-longer term address any conflicting pieces of legislation with regard to accrediting quality councils, statutory professional bodies oversight, and registration bodies.”
The department added that all these bodies are committed to continuing to engage at the highest levels toward the resolution of the dilemma experienced by pipeline students and graduates who have completed the National Diploma in Dental Technology and are unable to find gainful employment.
SADTC registrar Pertunia Nkuna said: “We are having ongoing discussions with various stakeholders to find a solution. We will issue a media statement once all the consultations have been concluded.”