Stellenbosch SRC backs English as teaching medium

Cape Town – The Stellenbosch University Student Representative Council [SRC] on Tuesday expressed concern over council’s decision on the language policy, saying it provided no real solutions.

SRC spokesperson James de Villiers said in a statement: “We are afraid the motion regarding language implies no real change at the university, ultimately resulting in many students that will stay excluded on this campus.”

The SRC has been calling for the language policy to be changed, making English the main medium of instruction.

At the weekend, the Senate announced that it had supported a motion in support of the university management's proposal.

Multilingual offering an ‘asset’

On Monday, council in a statement reportedly said language should never be an obstacle for any student pursuing studies at the university who had no command of either Afrikaans or English.

"Thus council requests management to expand the necessary mechanisms to this end, and to monitor these continuously.

"If this should imply that the English academic offering exceeds the set target, it will be supported by council."

However, council said these changes should not be to the detriment of the institution's Afrikaans offering.

"Council requests that the Afrikaans undergraduate academic offering should also be increased. Council confirms that its multilingual academic offering is considered a strategic asset of SU that should be expanded as a competitive advantage," it said.

De Villiers said the SRC stuck by its call for parallel medium teaching at Stellenbosch University, with English as the primary medium of communication.

“We are concerned that council is not acknowledging to sentiments of the staff and students that is directly affected by language implementation at this institution.”

‘We expected more from council’

He said the SRC would continue to put pressure on the rector’s management team to ensure that their recommendations are put into action.

“We have already aligned ourselves with the rector’s management team’s recommendations by accepting a motion that already requires all university residences to communicate in English…”

The SRC said it believed in a truly inclusive campus.

“Unlike council, we do not believe that the current language policy is conducive to creating that environment.

“We expected more from council. We expected council to relay innovative plans about language at Stellenbosch University, to show true leadership, but unfortunately council opted to continue with the status quo,” said De Villiers.

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