MAXINE TWADDLE Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande has reportedly acknowledged that intervention is needed in the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science. In an official document sent to AfriForum Youth, Nzimande reportedly indicated that a work group has been established and will advise UP on how the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences can be expanded to allow more students to be accepted into the degree. UP management told Perdeby that there are already plans in place to “significantly expand its Faculty of Veterinary Science” and increase intake by one-third next year. This will be accompanied by development in the faculty’s infrastructure. Nzimande conceded that South Africa faces a shortage of vets. The document allegedlydeclared that changes to admission systems must be made in terms of quota requirements pertaining to entrance into tertiary institutions. According to a statement made available to Perdeby by AfriForum Youth, this comes in response to a protest staged by the organisation. The protest, which took place in March, involved a group of students painting themselves black. They protested outside the Department of Higher Education and Training’s head office in Pretoria. AfriForum Youth have alleged that they represent a group of 30 white students. Collectively, these students achieved more than 200 matric distinctions but were turned away from UP because of “poor academic results”, according Nzimande recognises faults at UPto Charl Oberholzer, National Chairperson of AfriForum Youth. It is unclear for which subjects the distinctions were obtained or if these students achieved more distinctions individually than other students who were admitted. Oberholzer said that although the organisation has welcomed the action taken by Minister Nzimande, experience “shows that this won’t be sufficient”. An article on AfriForum’s website alleges that UP has admitted to turning away white students from the Faculty of Veterinary Science in order to meet racial quotas set by the department. Funding allocated to the university depends on its success in meeting these targets. In setting these targets, the department aims to reflect national demographics in the students who enrol for university degrees. Nicolize Mulder, UP Media Liaison Officer, told Perdeby that the work group has long been in effect and so is not a result of any action taken by AfriForum Youth. According to Mulder, the group has been working to improve all medical faculties at most South African universities. In general, Perdeby was told that admission is not based on race, but on academic achievement. However, UP admitted that “the faculty reserves a number of places for students from the designated groups.” According to management, admission requirements are structured so that access is provided to “a variety of students”. At the time of going to print, the Department of Higher Education and Training was not available for comment.

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