Statement by members of the Science RAC (Readmission Appeals Committee)

04 April 2017

Statement by members of the Science RAC (Readmission Appeals Committee)

We, the undersigned members of the 2017 Science RAC, are deeply concerned by the decision by members of UCT’s executive to conduct “an automatic review of all academic exclusions”. The university-wide rules governing the readmission appeals process are determined by a subcommittee of Senate, which in January 2017 affirmed that:

“The RACs must apply the regular criteria when considering applications;

  • students must provide a detailed account regarding the basis for their application
  • students must provide evidence of what has been done to overcome their particular issue relative to the extent of the trauma that resulted in them being excluded
  • where the basis for the application was related to the disruptions at the end of 2016 the RACS must take into account the level of support available to a particular student at the time of the disruptions.”

Over the course of the five meetings that the Science RAC held during January–March 2017, these rules were scrupulously and consistently followed. Every application received was discussed in detail by the members of the committee. All extenuating circumstances and supporting documents were examined exhaustively, in line with the procedures determined by Senate. Decisions to uphold Faculty Examination Committee (FEC) exclusions were taken with the student’s best long-term interests in mind.

While mindful of the right of students to individually appeal the decision of an RAC to the Vice-Chancellor, a sweeping review of every rejected appeal is clearly different. It delegitimises the entire process of reviewing academic exclusion decisions, which is already a review of decisions made by Faculty Examination Boards. It thereby also undermines the authority of Senate, which is the body designated by statute as being accountable to Council for overseeing teaching and research at UCT. It is yet another assault on the university’s academic integrity, which currency assures that our graduates are highly sought after by employers. Last, but not least, it is an extraordinary slight upon the members of the committee, since it creates the impression that corrective action is being taken due to incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the committee members.

We call on the UCT executive to immediately suspend the review process referred to in the DVC Desk of 2017 and affirm the decisions made by Science and other RACs.

Laura Roden (acting Chair)

David Erwin

Gregor Leigh

Duncan Mhakure

David Gammon (Assistant Dean, Advisor to committee)

Karen Wienand (Science Faculty Manager)

Pedro Beziek (Science Faculty RAC Servicing Officer)

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.