UKZN: It’s terrible seeing a varsity die, especially as it was ...

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UKZN: It’s terrible seeing a varsity die, especially as it was preventable

As a once fine institution descends into chaos, let’s examine what mistakes were made ... not least by Zuma

Columnist

After this week, the University of KwaZulu-Natal has joined the ranks of the chronically dysfunctional universities of South Africa. In fact, it is now questionable whether this once famed institution is a university in all but name.

Many of its top academics have fled the violent campuses from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. The top matriculants from the province routinely bypass the once distinguished Howard College or Westville campus to be scooped up by leading universities in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In my previous job, I happily interviewed an A-rated scholar desperate to get away from UKZN and one of the top matrics from a top boys school in Durban’s leafy suburbs told me he would accept admission to the Free State medical school (he was admitted to study medicine everywhere) on condition of mentorship.

The disturbing scenes at UKZN this week: A building housing the HIV-Aids support unit went up in flames. Students were engaged in pitched battles with police as they vowed to burn down the School of Education on the university’s Edgewood campus. These are not random targets. Two of the most devastating crises facing the province for decades are HIV infections and the quality of education in the schools. On both measures, KZN fares worse than most provinces. That is what the marauding students aim to destroy...

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