WSU faces losing law degree

Walter Sisulu University has six months to hire required academic staff to teach its LLB law degree or face losing accreditation to offer the course.

Walter Sisulu University has six months to hire required academic staff to teach its LLB law degree or face losing accreditation to offer the course.

The university’s electrical and mechanical engineering courses also face a similar plight, but unlike LLB, which has a deadline of October, WSU has until July next year to hire the required academic staff for the engineering programmes and to ensure proper lecture halls.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has even set aside R183-million for WSU to be able to upgrade its lecture halls and science laboratory as well as hire the much-needed staff to teach the affected courses.

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) issued a stern warning to the university last Thursday to conform within six months or lose its LLB course.

The CHE is a statutory body commissioned by the Department of Higher Education to ensure that institutions of higher learning offer quality learning and training that meet the required standards.

Three other universities – the University of South Africa, North West University and University of Free State – also face losing their accreditation for the LLB degree.

This comes after CHE reviewed the standards at 21 South African universities. WSU has also been red-flagged for their electrical and civil engineering courses.

WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo confirmed yesterday that the university, which has campuses in East London, Mthatha and Butterworth, has been given until October to hire qualified LLB lecturers at their Mthatha campus. Tukwayo said they had also been given until July next year to improve the quality of teaching they provide electrical and civil engineering diplomas or face losing accreditation for these two courses as well.

National higher education and training spokesman Madikwe Mabotha said should the affected institutions not adhere to the recommendations by the CHE, their LLB courses would be suspended and students would have to move to other institutions pending implementation of the recommendations.

WSU’s LLB degree was red-flagged for having hired under-qualified lecturers as well as campus infrastructure that was found not conducive to teaching and learning.

Tukwayo confirmed yesterday that the institution’s LLB programme did not have enough doctors and professors to teach the degree while their lecture halls were in a mess. She said the university lacked experts because most academics did not want to work in a rural environment.

However, she said, the university had set aside R90-million to improve infrastructure. A further R82-million would be used to improve student accommodation. This forms part of the R183-million the institution received last week from the historically disadvantaged institutions (HDI) grant to improve its conditions.

The LLB programme, which has been fully accredited since the inception of the University of Transkei (now WSU) in the 1970s, has produced top legal brains including constitutional court Judges Chris Jaftha and Mbuyiseli Mandlanga.

Eastern Cape Law Society head Advocate Sizwe Ntsaluba SC said it would be “devastating” for the profession if WSU lost its LLB accreditation.

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