UKZN keeping academics in the dark

2014-11-27 00:00

WITH the academic semester at the University of KwaZulu-Natal ending tomorrow, academics in the language departments facing closure are none the wiser.

A source at the university said there was no indication from ­university management as to what will happen to academics in these ­departments in the coming year.

According to another source: “It all looks like it will be left to the first semester next year.”

Earlier this year, the University of KwaZulu-Natal decided to close several language departments at the end of the year, ­including Afrikaans and Nederlands, German and Italian.

French will still be taught, but only on either the Durban or the ­Pietermaritzburg campus.

The French department was informed of this decision on ­October 1. On October 2, the Afrikaans, German and Italian departments were told these languages were to be discontinued at the end of the year.

At the meeting, staff were informed students already enrolled in these languages would be encouraged to register for other courses instead.

However, on October 21 university spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said while these departments would be closed because they were not meeting the required student numbers, they would continue to provide the service to all students currently studying there. A meeting scheduled in early November with the heads of ­affected departments and Jannie Smit, the acting dean of the School of Arts, plus a representative of human ­resources, was cancelled by the dean at the last minute.

Meanwhile, a petition launched on the community action website ­avaaz.org by students requesting university management to reverse their decision had logged 2 055 signatures by yesterday afternoon.

The university was asked for comment but had not responded by the time of going to press.

• Stephen.Coan@witness.co.za

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