Court rules challenge over WSU's LLB accreditation not urgent

2018-01-17 16:31
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pretoria – The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled that a Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) application for an interdict against the Council for Higher Education (CHE) - which will prevent it from withdrawing Walter Sisulu University's (WSU) Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme accreditation - is not urgent.

The decision was made on Wednesday morning, HETN said.

HETN said it wanted the court to compel the CHE and the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) to institute a "fair, inclusive and transparent reaccreditation process" for the university's LLB degree qualification.

Following its national review of the LLB programme, CHE said the University of Limpopo, the University of Zululand and the University of Cape Town (UCT) – one of the world's top 100 law schools – had been placed under notice of withdrawal. 

Also read: WSU vows to fight back after LLB accreditation withdrawal

Without the CHE degree accreditation, a university cannot legally offer a qualification.

This means WSU cannot offer the programme anymore and will have to apply for accreditation from scratch.

The institution can still take in new students in 2018. However, it will not be able to do so in 2019.

"We reiterate our view that the CHE’s decision to de-accredit the WSU’s LLB programme is harsh and failed to consider the socio-economic-educational implications of its decision and the Constitutionally enshrined education rights of the rural poor…," it said.


HETN said it will not be deterred from advocating for the rights of the poor.

It added that it remained "unfazed and confident" and said it would continue with legal action on the normal court roll.

Institution spokesperson Yonelwa Tukwayo told News24 on Wednesday that they will not accept defeat.

"We are working on areas that the CHE highlighted as areas that need to be improved so that we can get reaccreditation," she said.

Tukwayo said HETN took the matter to court without consulting the institution and added they were not part of the court action, although they were cited as respondents.

"It is Transformation Network's fight and not WSU's fight, because it was not done in consultation with us," she said.

The university has been confronted with some challenges that led to the council's decision to withdraw its accreditation.

CHE revealed in November 2017 that three of the country's universities were set to lose their law qualification accreditation.

Lack of infrastructure

Tukwayo had previously told News24 that they have put measures in place to sort out some of the issues raised by the council.

She said one of the issues the council had raised was a lack of infrastructure.

"They are 100% correct. Our infrastructure is not up to standard [and] we are also underfunded and we sit with books full of debt. The other point is that we don't have enough professors."

She said the programme was offered in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, which is a rural area, adding that it was difficult to get professors to work in the area.

"It would essentially downgrade them."

The council has given the institution a teach-out period, which gives students who are enrolled in the programme five years to finish.

Tukwayo explained that the certificate would be valid, but that law would not be a strong programme going into the future.

The institutions have until May 2018 to respond to the concerns raised by the CHE.

*This article has been amended to reflect that UCT has been placed under notice of withdrawal.  

Read more on:    wsu  |  education

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