Education activists go to court over scrapping of WSU law degrees
A legal fight is brewing between the Higher Education Transformation Network and the Council for Higher Education over the de-accreditation of Walter Sisulu University’s law degree.
The network filed a lawsuit in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday to interdict the council from implementing the decision it took against the university in November. The Law Society has been cited as a respondent in the matter.
According to the council‚ a review of LLB degree programmes was conducted across the 17 universities offering them. The council identified a number of shortcomings in the institutions.
In April last year‚ the council called “for the submission of improvement plans” and “following the evaluation of the improvement plans” Walter Sisulu’s accreditation was withdrawn.
“This means that the institution cannot offer the programme any more‚ and will have to reapply for accreditation from scratch with a new submission‚” the council said at the time.
In court papers‚ network chairman Reginald Legoabe said there was urgency in the application because of the “looming commencement of the 2018 academic year and the looming abrogation of the constitutionally enshrined rights to education of poor rural students in the Eastern Cape province to access the legal profession”.
Legoabe asked the court to set aside the council’s decision and order it‚ with the Law Society‚ to “institute a fair‚ inclusive and transparent accreditation process for the [university’s] LLB degree programme” at its Mthatha campus.
His affidavit reads: “We further submit that the [council] has neglected to fulfil its own statutory developmental duty to provide the requisite support mechanisms‚ advice and funding to support the [university] to develop its institutional capacity and ensure adherence to the [council’s] accreditation guidelines.
“The implications of the withdrawal of accreditation by the [council] implies that [Walter Sisulu University] will no longer be able to offer LLB programme to the public and serve the Eastern Cape rural community and may not admit any new students into the current programme from the 2019 onwards.”