Students studying speech-language therapy at Fort Hare University, who have accused the institution of offering a low-standard course barring them from graduating, have been told it is their own fault for failing to perform and logging the required practical work.
The students enrolled for the course in 2018. One told TimesLIVE: “Some students have failed to meet the HPCSA standard of clinical hours due to the university not providing us with enough clinical exposure. The HPCSA queried inadequate exposure in some clinical areas and questioned the quality of the fourth year exams (2021). We were also told the department is going through some evaluations, which should have been done before the university accepted an intake,” he said.
“According to communication we received earlier this year, we were told we don’t necessarily have to re-register, that if we complete the research module by 15 March we will have completed our degree and graduate in May,” he added. But now they have been told to re-register for the course as it could not be completed last year.
They were supposed to start community service this year, “but none of that has happened because of the maladministration and negligence”.
“We have lost job opportunities,” he said, adding that they were all lucky enough to have funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the Health Department for the period of the degree.
“However, with all these complications and not being registered for another year, we lost our funding, as we assumed we were done and would not have to register for the new academic year.
“Now we have to register with no funding, meaning we will probably have student debt and because we didn’t have an opportunity to negotiate with our sponsors.”
TimesLIVE has seen transcripts of some of the students, who passed most modules with distinctions.
However, the university has denied the allegations, saying it is in good standing regarding accreditation and standards as outlined by the SA Qualifications Authority and HPCSA.
“The university denies false claims that the programme is under review and/or that the programme’s accreditation is under dispute or being rescinded. The most recent review by HPCSA was in 2021. Based on the evaluation of the programme, the university met all the requirements and received the necessary accreditation to present this programme,” said JP Roodt, director of institutional advancement.
The institution blamed the students, saying it was their responsibility to do exposure hours diligently and to record their submissions.
“If the required clinical exposure hours are not met, the University of Fort Hare cannot allow a student to graduate. The onus falls on students to maintain documentation trails for the experiential/clinical exposure portion of the programme, which is evaluated by faculty members.
“While the university respects the enthusiasm of our Bachelor of Science in speech-language therapy students to graduate and enter the working world, the university cannot break academic control systems or make exceptions to allow students to graduate if programme requirements are not met,” said Roodt.
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