The University of Fort Hare failed speech therapy students
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A group of students at the University of Forte Hare who registered to study speech therapy, a four-year course between 2018 and 2019, have been failed by the university. The students were told that the qualification doesn’t meet Health Professions Council of South Africa standards.

A student who wants to remain anonymous said she’s a student from the second group in 2019. The problem started when the first group who registered in 2018 didn’t graduate in 2022. The second group was hopeful that the problem would be resolved and the students would continue studying.

In October 2022, the first group was asked to redo their exams, and in December of the same year, the students were told that in 2023 they needed to attend a 6-month program, but still the students didn’t meet the HPCSA standards.

The second cohort was due to graduate in 2023, and the students were waiting for feedback from HPCSA. In March 2023, the HPCSA told the students that the curriculum didn’t meet the standards, the university lacked lecturers, it lacked adequate infrastructure, and it had no clinic for the students to do their practical; they had to use classrooms.

Professor Lebogang Ramma, the chairperson of the speech, language, and hearing board, says there is a solution, and they’ve started working on it. The professor further highlights that the only problem is how much importance the University of Fort Hare places on this matter.

Mr. Ramma cites that the problem was highlighted as early as the start of the program. The professor says they couldn’t go to the site to see what’s happening until 2021, when the first group of students were about to graduate. That’s when a lot of issues came to the surface. It was determined that the institution shouldn’t register the students for 2023; however, the University of Fort Hare has registered speech therapy students for 2023.

A number of interventions were put in place to assist the university, and the institution had the support of the entire profession, including Wits University, the University of Pretoria, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which went to Fort Hare to try to assist. However,  the professor says that Fort Hare hasn’t done much to take advantage of the assistance. The professor says at the end of the year they assessed the students who went to the six-month program. At the moment, we are waiting for the results to make a decision about whether the students are being registered with HPCSA.

This matter has become complex to the point where parents had a meeting with the university. Guardian Report spoke to the Fort Hare spokesperson, and up until today, we have been waiting for their response.

The SRC says, “We are currently gathering some facts around the issue, and there’s new information that is arising. Therefore, we are avoiding a case whereby we make comments to any media house without having facts and full information about the issue. As we speak, we are communicating with the office of planning and quality assurance to verify some facts before we utter our comments. We have also secured a meeting with the faculty of health science and have requested an urgent meeting with the Health Professions Council of South Africa standards and the South African Qualifications Authority.”

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