The Democratic Alliance (DA) has submitted Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) applications to South Africaʼs 13 medical schools to ascertain their admissions requirements, specifically regarding race, following a row that saw the exit of SA Medical Association chair Dr Angelique Coetzee.
Chantel King, DA Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Science & Technology, said that given the "desperate shortage of medical professionals in South Africa, we believe that all deserving students should be admitted to study medicine, and that no student should be left behind based on the colour of their skin.”
‘The countryʼs healthcare systems are under severe pressure, and barring worthy candidates from entering the medical profession is not only a disservice to those individuals, but also disadvantages the public, including the poor and vulnerable,” King said
The DA move follow on the resignation of Dr Angelique Coetzee as chairperson of the SA Medical Association (SAMA) after her comments in the media that “admissions to medical schools were highly politicised, that race played a significant role in determining acceptance to medical faculties, in many instances more than the applicantʼs matric performance, and that different criteria exist for different race groups with regard to admission requirements”.
This followed a statement from the SAMA board that it after “considerable deliberation” it had accepted chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee’s apology for “hurt” caused by her remarks over medical schools admission policies ton a radio talk show. Coetzee then resigned as chair and was barred from speaking to the media, pending a disciplinary hearing.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) 2022 prospectus also recently came under the spotlight regarding the extensive race-based criteria built into its admissions process. The DA’s PAIA applications wants information:
• current admissions requirements for newcomer students to be admitted to the MBChB degree;
• confirmation of whether, and a precise description of, how the racial identity of applicants is used as a criterion for admissions at any point during the admissions process;
• confirmation of whether different admissions criteria or thresholds apply to applicants from different “racial groups”;
• criteria and physical characteristics relied upon to racially classify individual applicants;
• criteria and physical characteristics relied upon to determine whether an applicantʼs “racial self-classification” is “accurate”; and
• the number of applicants whose applications for the 2021 intake were rejected on the basis that they were not classified as belonging to preferred “designated groups” and who would otherwise have been admitted if they were classified as belonging to a preferred “designated group” .
The DA submitted the PAIA applications to the University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Pretoria, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, University of the Free State, University of Limpopo, Walter Sisulu University, University of Johannesburg, University of Western Cape, Northwest University – South Africa Nelson Mandela University.