Academic Way Forward
I want to start off by saying that we really understand that this is a very difficult and frustrating time for both students and staff. We recognise that the initial postponement of exams and subsequent cancellation of exams this week, following yesterday’s events on campus, make it very difficult for students to remain focussed on their studies.
We spent time this morning in consultation with deans and faculties to identify modules that lend themselves to alternative modes of assessment. A number of such modules have been identified in the faculties of Arts, Economic and Management Sciences, Community and Health Sciences, and Law. Such alternative modes of assessment, however, are not a viable option for all modules, therefore some exams will be conducted as normal sit-down exams. The timetable for the remainder of exams is attached and indicates which modules will be assessed through alternative assessment modes. Details around the logistics of alternative exams will be communicated before close of day, tomorrow (Friday).
Exams will continue on Monday, 16 November 2015, as per the current November timetable. Exams that were cancelled this week will also be repeated during the week of 1 December 2015. While we are doing everything possible to establish secure conditions on campus next week, students who would prefer to complete exams in January 2016, may do so.
We have received renewed calls for the use of continuous assessment marks (CAMs) as final marks. This was discussed extensively and deans are unanimous that this is not a viable option. We strongly feel that too many students will be disadvantaged by such a decision and many of our senior students have indicated that they feel that such a decision would devalue their degrees.
We have also had extensive consultation with the Police today to ensure that their presence on campus is not only in response to incidents after they have happened, but that they would also play an active role in the prevention of incidents during the exam period. Police were on campus the whole day with increased public order security.
In terms of the situation on campus, things were quiet today, but tense. In the early hours of this morning there was a further arson attempt at the Residence Life (ResLife) building.
Following my update of yesterday, where I indicated that the Police was arresting students, I am sure that many of you heard via the news and social media channels that the 16 students who were arrested yesterday, appeared in Court this morning. All of the students were released on bail and their bail conditions determine that they may only enter the campus with the investigating officer, to collect their personal belongings. If they enter campus on their own, or for any other reason, they will be contravening their bail conditions which would lead to them being re-arrested.
While recognising that this is a very difficult and trying time for all of us which is creating a lot of uncertainty, we plead for your understanding as we try and resolve the situation. Our ultimate goal is to try and secure a conclusion to the 2015 academic year. Failure to do so would impact on current and prospective students, and may erode the good standing of our University.
Prof Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor