Tears as court supports decision to reject student

2016-03-10 09:30

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Pietermaritzburg - A woman dissolved in tears at the Pietermaritzburg high court on Wednesday as her dreams of becoming a medical doctor took a step backwards.

Niekara Harrielall of Escombe failed in her application to the high court aimed at getting her into her first year of study at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Harrielall says that for as long as she can remember she has wanted to be a doctor.

Harrielall, who completed her first year of a Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree (Anatomy) last year with admittedly “outstanding results” in her bid to be enrolled in medical school this year, was rejected on grounds she was outranked by more qualified students who already had degrees.

Judge Mohini Moodley yesterday ruled in favour of UKZN.

She found the university had shown that it had considered Harrielall’s application and had applied its selection policy properly.

Suvanie Chetty, who is involved in the selection process for the medical school at UKZN, explained in an affidavit that there were nine positions available for Indian applicants in the “mature student” category for 2016. UKZN, like all universities, is obliged to adhere to allocated racial quotas.

She said UKZN received a total of 161 applications (including that of Harrielall) for this particular category. In considering these applications, UKZN applied a ranking system in terms of which the higher the academic qualification a student had attained, the better his/her prospects were of being accepted into medical school.

The nine “mature” Indian students who made the cut for acceptance in 2016 were all graduates who had already attained their honours, masters or other degrees.

Chetty said further that of the 150 students with incomplete degrees who applied for admission, Harrielall was ranked number 16 on the academic merit list. “None of the 15 applicants who ranked ahead of her were offered places in medical school.”

Chetty said were the university to promote Harrielall’s application up the list ahead of these students, it would be unfair to them.

Adrian Collingwood, who appeared for Harrielall, argued that UKZN’s policy did not provide for applications to be considered in terms of “rankings”, but merely provided for the consideration of “outstanding results”.

He noted an intention to apply for leave to appeal against Judge Moodley’s ruling. Alistair Dickson SC for UKZN said he needed time to consider the application.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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