First-Year Maties in Four Faculties to Be Allowed to Choose Language of Instruction

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FIRST-year students in four faculties at Stellenbosch University are to be able to choose English or Afrikaans as their medium of study from the beginning of next year.

The vice-rector for teaching, Magda Fourie, has acknowledged that the decision to introduce "parallel medium tuition" may pose logistical challenges, but said it would "increase opportunities for students to be academically successful".

The university council has decided that some faculties would offer next year's first-year students the chance to attend lectures in either language.

They are the faculties of economic and management sciences, science, agrisciences, and engineering.

The faculty of arts and social sciences would introduce parallel medium instruction for first years in 2011, the university has said in a statement.

"In terms of the decision, these five faculties would also be permitted to consider the extension of parallel medium instruction to the second year of study where feasible and affordable."

Alternatively, the faculties could choose, once students progressed beyond first year, to arrange for English as well Afrikaans to be used in giving the same lecture.

Fourie said yesterday that because of the challenges posed by parallel medium tuition, "the university will phase in parallel medium tuition in these larger faculties".

"Where there are large groups of students taking a specific module, the groups have been split into smaller groups and these can then, on a logistical level, be reshuffled into different language groups," Fourie said.

"Furthermore, parallel medium tuition will be phased in only in the first year to determine the real logistical implications. …