National 8.8.2016 05:30 am

UP’s language shift on hold for legal nod

University of Pretoria main gate. Photo: Supplied

University of Pretoria main gate. Photo: Supplied

Students need to have certainty about the university’s language offer before they register for study in 2017.

An amendment to the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) statutes will not be considered until legal certainty about the constitutionality and legality of the university’s new language policy has been established, civil rights group AfriForum said yesterday.

This is the latest twist in the legal battle against the implementation of UP’s new language policy, AfriForum deputy CEO Alana Bailey said.

The new policy, adopted on June 22, stipulated that English would be the primary language of instruction at the university with effect from next year. This amounted to a “gross violation of the language rights of Afrikaans students” at UP, therefore AfriForum had decided to launch a court application to have the decision reviewed and set aside, she said.

For the new language policy to have official status, an amendment to UP’s institutional statute, ratified by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, was required.

Consequently, AfriForum had asked Nzimande to hold back on publication of the amended statute pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The higher education and training department had just given a written undertaking that the amendment of UP’s statutes would not be considered until the constitutionality and legality of the new language policy of the university had been established, Bailey said.

Nzimande had therefore committed not to take any decision about the amendment of the statute until a high court judgment was made in the case involving AfriForum and trade union Solidarity versus the UP.

AfriForum welcomed this undertaking.

“It is essential that the new policy should not be implemented before the legal action has been concluded.

“Students need to have certainty about the university’s language offer before they register for study in 2017. “AfriForum thanks the minister for his stance that recognises and protects this right, as opposed to the university management which seems to be set on railroading the implementation process,” Bailey said.

AfriForum and Solidarity were waiting for a court date for their case against UP.

– ANA

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