UKZN architecture school worries

2008-03-26 00:00

Serious concerns have been raised around the standards at the University of KZN’s School of Architecture and these have resulted in students leaving to study elsewhere.

Student sources told The Witness that student numbers have dropped due to a lack of facilitators.

Three of the top students abandoned their studies at UKZN and have gone to finish their degrees abroad at the University of Auckland. One of them said that all the staff they considered “good and valuable, have actually left or been fired by the head” of the college.

The students expressed concern at the school’s tenuous validation by the SA Council for the Architectural Profession (Sacap), which has granted conditional validation for the Bachelor of Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture programmes. Progress with respect to the conditions will be monitored in terms of a return visit by the validation board and by professional advisers.

Students said that this was a window period in which the school must “fix itself”, or lose its accreditation.

“What that means is that UKZN Architecture will no longer be recognised internationally.”

Sources close to the school said that the reticence of Sacap to grant unconditional validation was due to a dire lack of staff.

Responding to questions from The Witness, Professor F.N.M. Mazibuko, deputy vice-chancellor and head of Humanities at Howard College Campus, did not directly account for the declining figures of students.

“The School of Architecture, Planning and Housing operates as an academic unit in line with the UKZN statute, transformation and access contexts/frameworks. These contexts/frameworks continue to yield successes and new challenges, which the university and the College of Humanities do not shun to address.”

He said that review processes were undertaken to manage quality and compliances. “The college and the faculty are implementing recommendations made by the Sacap.” But he failed to elaborate on what specific recommendations had been made.

Meanwhile, Ivor Daniel, president of the KZN Institute of Architects, told The Witness that the institute had helped call for the accreditation visit by Sacap after concerns were raised.

“The report they produced found that there was no real leadership at the school and that there was a lack of staff generally.” He said the report asked for a panel of advisers to assist the university under his chairmanship. “We have had preliminary meetings on how we can advise on future needs and objectives.”

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