16 April 2018

South Africa: University of Limpopo Tussle Over Student's Degree Heads to the SCA

The University of Limpopo is heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal to ask for the reversal of a Limpopo High Court order, compelling it to award a student with a BA Communication Studies degree.

Lebogang Makwela's battle for her degree began in 2016 when she completed outstanding modules through Unisa and submitted them to the Limpopo university so that she could graduate.

According to her lawyer, Shadrack Tebeila, under section 26 of the university's constitution, students could complete outstanding modules at another institution to ensure they graduated.

She followed policy guidelines, Tebeila added.

"Our client asked for permission and registered with Unisa. Then, after completing, she went back to renew [her] registration so that she can graduate. Then, unfortunately, she was told she cannot graduate because the curriculum has changed," Tebeila explained to News24.

The case ended up in court and in February, the High Court ruled in Makwela's favour.

Judge George Phatudi ruled that the university's decision to grant Makwela permission to complete outstanding modules with Unisa created the impression that she would get her degree.

He ruled "that the first respondent's decision not to recognise the applicant' s courses or modules completed at the University of South Africa, be declared unconstitutional, unlawful, and be reviewed and be set aside".

Makwela had her hopes on graduating last week but the university decided to take the case further.

If the university is successful with its appeal, Makwela could be forced to study under a new curriculum, which will include new modules. Tebeila has indicated that his client was opposed to this.

"Makwela will never graduate because every time [the] curriculum changes and she [is] still [at] the university, it means she will do new courses every time," he said.

Tebeila added that this would have a financial impact.

He believes this case will help other students in similar positions.

Source: News24

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