Written by: Oliver Lay
On Monday the 20th of October, the Dean of the Health Sciences faculty announced that classes for medical students from first year to third year have been suspended for the remainder of 2016. This decision came after weeks of continued disruptions by protestors, making the face-to-face teaching sessions required by the health sciences faculty all but impossible. As such, the faculty, at least in part, follows the footsteps of the University of the Western Cape, another institution that has closed its doors in the wake of the continued protests surrounding the FeesMustFall Movement. The University plans to make up for lost time in a mini-semester in January 2017, covering teaching material not taught in 2016 and holding the examinations that would have been written in November this year.
This sets a worrying precedent for other faculties and we may see some of them suspend this academic year. At this point, it appears that protestors are trying to destroy South Africa’s tertiary education system, working towards some kind of twisted egalitarian system in which all students are equally bereft of an education. The middle income students and the poor are most affected by this continued destruction of the tertiary education system as those that can afford it will move to institutions overseas or other private institutions. The Health Sciences faculty can probably make up 2016’s work next year but if protests continue as they have since this point, this body of work may have to be postponed indefinitely. It is a very ominous sign that one of UCT’s most important faculties can be so affected.
Author: Oliver Lay is a 2nd year politics, philosophy, and economics student at the University of Moscow/Cape Town.