Open letter to the Minister of Higher Education regarding "Walter Sisulu University shutdown" from the UDM President (20 January 2010)

Dear Sir

The allegation about the cutting down of the number of students per Faculty (School) to fifty at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) has sent shockwaves through not only the Eastern Cape Province but the whole of South Africa.

The allegation states that with effect from this academic year (2010), the quota of students per Faculty will be fifty. This includes both old and new students.

If this is true, it means that the average pass rate per Faculty would stand at 15-20 students, taking into account the dropout rate that normally takes place at any tertiary institution.

One is skeptical about this approach especially when one looks at previous attempts to close this university. This could provide fertile ground for some to argue - based on the numbers - that keeping the university open is not a viable exercise.

Another allegation is that the evening classes will be stopped this year.

Please be reminded that one of the paramount reasons for the establishment of the then University of Transkei (now WSU) and the provision of evening classes, was to cater not only for full-time learners but also the poor and the working classes.

Those who could not afford payment of full-time student fees could attend on a part-time basis with evening classes, which also accommodated those engaged in their work activities but who still desired to improve their educational qualifications.

The abovementioned programme has produced many graduates who have and are continuing to contribute to the development of this country.

We are therefore, appealing to you, as the Minister of Higher Education, to verify the authenticity of these allegations and if true, whether such steps have been sanctioned by your Department and the University’s Council.

Your urgent intervention is hereby solicited so as not to deny the poorest of the poor their opportunity of access to education.

Yours in Nation building,
Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President