Qaanitah Hunter | Cii News, Pic: medicalchronicle.co.za | 23 January 2013
With the new tertiary academic year set to begin in South Africa, many university applicant are scrambling to secure a spot at their preferred institutions.
Due to the thousands of applications that usually outnumber the seats available, universities have a strict admission quota to adhere to.
School learners seeking a space have to work incredibly hard, particularly in their final year of schooling, in an effort to secure acceptance at the university of their choice.
While many are ‘lucky’ to get accepted, hundreds are rejected despite outstanding results.
A female student from Johannesburg, who matriculated in 2012 with 7 distinctions, claims she was rejected from the University of the Witwatersrand’s Medical School.
Despite informing Cii of what she claimed happened to her, the student opted for anonymity for fear of victimisation, as she has been accepted at another faculty in the university.
The student however said that the medical school did not cite any reason for the rejection for her application despite her meeting all requirements.
The girl noted that she was captain of her school’s soccer team and had fulfilled the required hours of community work.
“When I applied I made sure I had everything that met the requirements. So for my biographical questionnaire, I had the maximum amount for community service,” she said.
She noted that her matric results were above the necessary criteria.
Her family tried to solicit an explanation from the faculty which, according to them, proved to be unsuccessful.
“So I know there is a quota system where they have to accept from this race and that race and I was just a bit concerned.”
Further investigations by Cii News discovered that the rumor of a so called ‘racial quota’ being in place, specifically in the medical faculty, was well known.
Many have accused the administration of discriminating against outstanding candidates based on their race.
Furthermore, a second rumour within the Muslim community pointed towards the Dean of the Medical School, Professor Ahmed Wadee.
Without wanting to be named, these ‘community members’ told Cii News that Wadee was not in favour of female Muslims gaining acceptance at the faculty as they rarely continued their careers after marriage or pregnancy and hence it is a waste of state resources.
But Wadee was livid in his response to the accusation against him and the university. He dubbed the rumors as slander and challenged those spreading them to a court battle.
“I am unhappy that those people are saying that because they have no grounds to accuse Wits Medical School of any wrong doing… Unfortunately the urban legend is that I got 9 A’s and I will get in to medical school. The answer is, no! We looking not at 9 A’s. We are looking at 5 subjects and we are not looking at the symbol, we are looking at the actual percentage,” he said.
He added that results counted for 40% of admission while another 40% was derived from the National Bench Mark test.
Wadee explained that another 10% was based on candidates who have socio-economic disadvantage and a further 10% based on a biographical questionnaire.
He categorically denied having a quota based on racial grounds.
“The fallacy is that if you do 500 hours of community work you will get in. The answer is, no! We are looking at 1 out of 9 points because we are looking at a well-rounded individual,” Wadee said.
A composite index of the above mentioned categories gives a total of 100 points and students are ranked from the top downwards.
“The top 250 get a place. If it happens that 70% of our applicants are female then so be it. We don’t discriminate on gender at all.”
Wade called the accusations erroneous and noted that he is unhappy and upset that people make such ‘”silly comments”.
He said prayer facilities for all major religions proved that there is no discrimination based on religion.
“We are faced with six and a half thousand applicants for medicine and only 250 can get in. So how must I increase the numbers?”
A student at Wits Medical School, Ayesha Noor Mohammed, told Cii News that despite the rumours she had never seen any evidence of discrimination by the university or by Professor Wadee. She said it was “misguided” that people assumed that Wadee was solely behind the selection process.
She said it was possible that the rumors regarding him stemmed from the fact that he was Dean of Student Affairs for many years during which he had to liaise with students regarding decisions which the department had made.
“In short, he had to break the bad news to the students. This is why he possibly developed a somewhat undesirable reputation,” Noor Mohammed said.
The 6th year student noted that Muslim students are significantly accommodated at the campus.
“I have never personally been prejudiced against, nor have I witnessed any Muslim girl being prejudice against at Wits Medical School. We are given the same treatment that all students at Wits Medical School are given.”
She added that, “We are allowed to dress as we please, we are allowed to pray in a clean Salaah facility, we are provided with Halaal food in the cafeteria.”
She said the demographics of students at the campus were realistically proportional.
Tags: ahmed wadee, Muslims, quotas, race, wits medical school