Questions over racial quotas at SA universities

The trade union Solidarity says it has commenced with legal action against Stellenbosch University (SU) for the institution’s racially based student selection methods.

Solidarity said it obtained information through its selection quota campaign which indicated that 67% of the places are reserved for coloured, black and Indian applicants who applied for medicine at Stellenbosch, while only 33% of the places are available for any applicant, regardless of race.

The trade union argued that although the 33% is available for all races, it means that white students have a far ‘smaller chance’ to obtain admission because of the large number of competitors who meet the minimum requirements and submit applications.

According to Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices, this selection process is based on a rigid application of a quota system.

“A person’s admission is solely evaluated by a rigid numerical goal that was set. A white person, regardless of his/her performance and how disadvantaged the specific individual was or is, will always have only a 33% chance to study medicine at Stellenbosch,” van der Bijl said.

Solidarity pointed out that the Labour Court found in  its favour in a recent case against the South African Police Service by stating that affirmative action pursuing groundless and absolute goals, without taking any other factors into consideration, is illegal and invalid.

“The SU management obviously supports a quota system, which has been proved to be unconstitutional. The system must be revised to be aligned with the law, ” van der Bijl said.

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Questions over racial quotas at SA universities