People being turned away from enrollment at Walter Sisulu University- statement by the UDM President (21 January 2010)

Pursuant to the letter I wrote to the Minister of Higher Education, a dismissive response was issued in the Daily Dispatch by vice-chancellor at Walter Sisulu University (WSU), Marcus Balintulo.

We are in possession of a copy of a WSU document entitled “First Year Intake Projections for 2010. Major field of study: SET approved – Senate meeting 020909”. This document reinforces our concerns regarding a reduction of first year enrolments. To cite but a few examples:

• In Engineering Studies, the National Diploma: Civil Engineering had 99 first year students enrolled in 2009, but for 2010 only 50 enrolments were projected.

This is a trend seen in various courses:
• ND Engineering: Civil 77 to 50
• ND Engineering: Electrical 107 to 40
• ND Fashion  Design 90 to 50
• ND IT Communications Network from 95 to 50
• ND Policing from 49 to 20
• ND Local Government Finance from 79 to 40
• Bachelor of Admin (Public Affairs) 92 to 47
• LLB from 228 to 50
• Bachelor of Social Science from 208 to 75

It is fine and well for the vice-chancellor to quibble about numbers as if there aren’t real people involved. The reality is that many people have been turned away by university staff when attempting to enroll. They have been told that this is because the university cannot enroll more than a prescribed number.

I challenge the Minister to make a call to Mrs Ndungane, whose child has already attempted suicide in the aftermath of being told that the university cannot enroll her because they had already reached the prescribed number of enrolments. Mrs Ndungane’s number is 083 537 5482.

What the vice-chancellor should do is to explain to the public what informed these ‘projections’, such as the reduction from 228 enrolled last year in LLB to 50 this year? Is the goal not then to make certain courses and eventually entire faculties redundant? He should explain these discrepancies.

If everything is aboveboard why are students being turned away? University staff are telling prospective students and their parents that there are limits on enrolments.

Whilst we appreciate the vice-chancellor has his personal views about the UDM and our electoral performance, but he must remember that history has shown repeatedly that the so-called big parties have mislead the public, as the Nats did, and I daresay currently we face similar deceits.

Instead of engaging in mudslinging, he should explain to the Minister and the public what methodology he and the Senate used to arrive at their ‘projections’ which have lead to prospective students being turned away.