UFS pleased with language policy appeal judgment

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University of the Free State's Bloemfontein Campus's main building. File Photo: Moeketsi Mogotsi.

The implementation order barred the UFS from implementing its new language policy in 2017, pending the outcome of the appeal of the review application.

The Supreme Court of Appeal held that the application brought by AfriForum and Solidarity failed on a legal and factual level, and was misconceived.

The court accordingly upheld the appeal by the UFS against the implementation order, setting aside the order, and directing that AfriForum and Solidarity pay the legal costs of the UFS in respect of both the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal proceedings pertaining to implementation.

The effect of today’s judgment is that the UFS may proceed to implement the new language policy in its pilot programme next year, pending the appeal of the review application which will only be heard in early 2017.

In March 2016, the Senate and then Council adopted with overwhelming majority a new Language Policy that strives to achieve multilingualism.

The new policy entails English as primary medium of instruction, but with the introduction of a tutorial system in Afrikaans and progressively in Sesotho to support students’ learning in their first and second year of study.

The policy will be piloted in 2017 with first-year students in three faculties: Law, Health Sciences, and the Humanities.

In these faculties, the majority of students indicated their preference to be taught in English. The Afrikaans-English (parallel medium) policy will be maintained in the rest of the faculties in 2017 and phased out according to an implementation plan as from 2018.

Current registered students will be able to complete their studies in the language they selected upon registration.

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