On the 8 January 2018 the Council on Higher Education [CHE] was served with an urgent application by the Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) in regard to the withdrawal of accreditation by the CHE of the LLB degree qualification at the Walter Sisulu University [WSU] in November 2017.
The following were cited as respondents in the matter:
-Council on Higher Education (1st Respondent),
-Law Society of South Africa (2nd Respondent),
-Minister of Higher Education and Training (3rd Respondent)
-Council of the Walter Sisulu University (4th Respondent).
HETN, a non-profit organisation concerned with transformation in the higher education sector, instituted the urgent application to:
-interdict and set aside the decision of the CHE to revoke and de-accredit the LLB of WSU,
-institute a “fair, inclusive and transparent re-accreditation process for WSU’s LLB.”
The ground for urgency was that the imminent start of the 2018 academic year would prejudice the right to education of students from poor rural households.
The CHE was of the view that there was little merit in the application, particularly on the ground of urgency. The premise that students registering in 2018 would be prejudiced was wrong in that the LLB outcome in the case of WSU’s LLB would only come into effect in 2019. In the meantime, the institution is entitled to submit a new programme for accreditation.
It was communicated to the applicant via the CHE’s lawyers that sound grounds for urgency did not exist. Further, they were advised to remove the matter from the urgent roll and place it on the ordinary roll. The Applicant was also forewarned that should they proceed on the basis of urgency, that the CHE would seek a punitive costs order.
The matter was heard in the High Court Gauteng Division, Pretoria on 16 January 2018 and judgement was handed down on 17 January.
The Court considered the facts at hand and concluded that the case be struck off the roll, on the following bases:
- The applicant failed to substantiate reasons for launching an urgent application.
- The withdrawal of accreditation of the LLB programme at WSU does not affect enrolment of students for the 2018 academic year and on this basis the matter could still be heard in due course.
- The final LLB Review outcomes were issued on 14 November 2017 and the Applicant only launched an ‘urgent’ application on 5 January 2018.
The merits of the case were not argued and the application was dismissed with costs on an attorney and client scale.