The deadline for submissions for proposals on the language policy to the ITP was 3 June. According to a campus-wide communication sent on 25 May, all internal and external stakeholders of UP were invited to make submissions on “(a) the current language policy of the University of Pretoria, (b) proposals regarding a new language policy, (c) the reasons for any proposal under (b), and (d) proposals as to the lawful and practical implementation of any new language policy or changes to the existing one”. Submissions were to be succinct, no longer than eight pages, and only one submission per person or organisation was considered. This is because the focus of the panel was on reasoned substantial comments and proposals, rather than the number of possibly repetitive submissions supporting a particular view. Anna-Retha Bouwer, UP Media Liaison, said that the panel had received over 20 submissions from stakeholders such as Afrikaans cultural organisations like the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK) and Voortrekkers and professional bodies like the Black Lawyers Association.
Willie Spies, a Council member of UP and spokesperson for Afriforum, was quoted by Netwerk24 saying that 30 members voted in favour of the new language policy and three against it, with only one abstention. Spies added that students who had started their courses in Afrikaans at UP will be able to finish their courses in Afrikaans and that according to UP figures, of the 45 000 students at UP, 8 800 currently study in Afrikaans.
The approval of the new language policy has been welcomed by the Sasco UP Branch. In a statement, it said that “as the South African Students’ Congress, we are proud to announce that [the] University of Pretoria in 2017 will be offering all modules in English, hence we declare [the] University of Pretoria an inclusive institution of higher education.” The EFFSC-UP welcomed the news that #AfrikaansHasFallen on Twitter adding that it awaited an official statement from UP on the matter.
Meanwhile, in a statement released by Afriforum, they said that they were consulting their legal team, Afriforum Youth and other stakeholders “to ensure that the constitutional language rights of Afrikaans-speaking students and prospective Afrikaans students will not be violated,” following the UP Council’s decision and a similar decision by the Stellenbosch University Council.
In a statement issued by SRC chairperson Thabo Shingange, the SRC declared their support for the English-only policy. It said that the policy provides for English to be the only medium of instruction beginning with the intake from 2017 and for students who are already registered, the use of Afrikaans will be phased out gradually.
Read the full UP statement here.