UCT medical school in disarray

2010-01-27 13:03

THE University of Cape Town’s Medical School appears to be in

disarray since it opened on January 7, with lecturers failing to arrive and

confusion reigning over teaching and practical demonstration venues.

The chaos seems to be most prevalent among fifth to final-year

students, causing anxiety over their ability to pass their first examinations

for the year, looming in six weeks time.

“I have attended so many lectures this year where I just sit there

and wait and eventually you just leave. Or you get there and the department is

not even aware of your presence or don’t know what you’re doing,” said a

sixth-year student who, like other students interviewed, wished to remain

anonymous for fear of being victimised by the university authorities.

A fifth-year student had the same experience. “In the last two

weeks we’ve only had four tuts (tutorials),” he said.

Students said the system of Self Directed Study (SDL), in which

students teach themselves using their books, was used to justify lecturers’

failure to pitch for class.

“You’re supposed to get tuts but basically if no one shows up they

call it SDL,” said a fifth-year student.

“I feel like I’m studying medicine via correspondence,” said

another student, after she and her classmates were thrown out of a scheduled

class in theatre yesterday. The student said the doctor who was supposed to give

the class told them she had already taught a class earlier in the day.

Nobody knows what the hell is going on,” said the student.

Some of the students compared UCT unfavourably to other medical


“I think we fall far behind other med schools. Our parents are

paying hundreds of thousands of rands for nothing,” a final-year student


To add insult to injury, UCT medical school fees have been

increased by R15?000 this year.

In an attempt to have the problem resolved, a student said they

approached the dean of the faculty, only to be told to take the complaint to

another professor.

Students also believe they will be persecuted if they are known to

have complained.

“We are jittery. They can nail you.”

Student Representative Council manager Jerome September said the

SRC knew nothing of the situation at the medical school, but “would look into


Melanie Jackson, manager of development, communication and

marketing at UCT, said: “We are initiating our own enquiries as these are

serious allegations. As we take these issues seriously, it will take time to

reach any conclusions. I will alert you as soon as we have something concrete.”

– West Cape News


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