Response from Vice-Chancellor to VARSITY article about motions put to Senate on the admissions policy.
I have taken note of the issues raised by the SRC President and the Chair of the Student Assembly in their letter to me and in the VARSITY article. I responded in writing to them by the due date as promised, and have also met with them. I have also offered to meet the Student Assembly.
The concerns raised by the SRC and the Student Assembly are that certain motions should not have been put to Senate at its meeting on March 15th. They argue that this was not in line with the decision of Council in December 2012. Furthermore they argue that putting the motions to Senate signals a disregard for the student view because the SRC did not have enough time to consult students on the admissions policy proposals.
My view, confirmed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Registrar, almost all of whom were present at both the Council and Senate meetings, is that the process was misunderstood by the student representatives. Council’s decision was to delay the implementation of a new admissions policy until the class of 2015 rather than the class of 2014. It did not say anything about what decisions could be taken at the Senate meeting in March. On the contrary, the implementation for 2015 requires the new policy to be approved in late 2013 for publication in early 2014. The schedule always intended this process to start at the Senate meeting in March, at which we would seek Senate’s broad, in-principle decisions on how to develop the admissions policy. This was documented in various public communications from the VC to students and staff well before March 15th. The substance of the motions was elaborated before the Senate meeting and was included in the Senate papers distributed prior to the meeting. This has all been documented in detail in my reply letter to the SRC president and Student Assembly chair.
We note that nothing in this challenge from the student leaders relates to the substance of the changes proposed to the Admissions Policy. The only dispute is over whether Senate should have considered the motions at its March meeting. We believe we kept to the well-documented process. As it turned out, the motions were in any case withdrawn for many reasons, the main ones being the need to await the results of modelling alternative admissions approaches in the faculties.
We remain committed to co-operative governance. Students participate in every governance committee of UCT that they care to sit on. There has been intensive student and SRC involvement over the last three years on the admissions policy. They are represented on the committee investigating alternative models (the APRTT). They were represented on the Howie Commission. It is disingenuous to suggest that student opinion is being ignored.
It is also useful to note that the debate around the admissions policy will continue throughout the year. There are still multiple opportunities for students and anyone else to engage in the process. In particular, student faculty council input will be most valuable as we test the proposed policies in different faculties.
With respect to the article that appeared in the VARSITY Newspaper I would merely note, with dismay, that the reporter and editor made no attempt to request comment from me or my office. If they had, we would have been able to state our view on the matter and to correct the incorrect facts that are regrettably contained in the report.
Dr Max Price