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A group of students, accompanied by a delegation of AfriForum Youth, painted themselves black in front of the Department of Higher Education, as a protest against the racial targets the Department is imposing on the Veterinary Science Faculty of the University of Pretoria.
AfriForum Youth said in a statement they represent some 30 prospective students who collectively earned 190 distinctions in Matric, but were turned away by the university's Veterinary Science Faculty owing to “poor academic performance”.
“AfriForum Youth, students and parents protested against the entry requirements for veterinary science in South Africa. As this is the only faculty of its kind in South Africa, the Department has a unique responsibility to afford top academic achievers an opportunity to alleviate the country’s skills shortage in the field of veterinary science,” said Charl Oberholzer, National Chairman of AfriForum Youth.
“Places are even reserved for international students while white South Africans who earned between seven and nine distinctions are turned away,” added Oberholzer.
According to Oberholzer, students have the right to take up the career of their choice and the purpose of this action is to lay claim to this right.
“The racial targets that are being imposed on the faculty are excluding numerous white students and limiting their right to choose a career.”
AfriForum Youth said it forced the university in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to release information on the reasons why these applicants did not gain entrance. According to the university, the Department of Higher Education lays down racial targets according to which the university receives funding. The Department’s objective is for the UP’s Veterinary Science Faculty to reflect the national demographics.
The following solutions were proposed to the Minister of Higher Education:
* Racial classification must be stopped, ensuring that all races are treated equally.
* More students must gain entrance to veterinary science through the most competitive category, namely the ‘open category’, to afford top achievers a better chance to be accepted.
* More admissions should be considered for the category of students who have already registered for a BSc course, thereby giving the high-achieving matriculants of 2010 and 2011 a better chance of gaining entrance.
* An independent body must be appointed to evaluate the current process of admission and the merit of applicants who were turned away.
“Young people who were born from 1993 onwards should not be subjected to racially driven policies. They deserve a fair chance and are stripped of their dignity when they are placed in racial categories,” said Oberholzer.
“Every year, 140 students are admitted to the Veterinary Science Faculty and only 22 white matriculants from the 2011 group may be admitted. The vast majority of the applicants are white students, but the University of Pretoria set out to recruit black students in order to meet the demographic targets,” said Oberholzer.
AfriForum Youth has directed several letters on the matter to the rector, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, and the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande. "Although the Department indicated before that the rector will be required to submit a report on the situation, such a report has not been released yet," the grouping said. "Moreover, in terms of the application for information, AfriForum Youth is still awaiting the academic records of the applicants who gained entry to the Veterinary Science Faculty and the pass rate in respect of each category for the past three years."