Stellenbosch University
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New SU Language Policy to promote access and multilingualism
Author: US Raad / SU Council
Published: 27/06/2016

​​​​Statement by Mr George Steyn, Chair of the Stellenbosch University Council

The Council of Stellenbosch University (SU) today (22 June 2016) approved the proposed new Language Policy​ with the amendments proposed by Senate. On 9 June 2016, Senate approved the Language Policy with a large majority of votes (113 for and 10 against). According to the Higher Education Act and the Statute of Stellenbosch University, the Language Policy is the only policy to be approved by Council with the concurrence of Senate. 

By approving the proposed new Language Policy, Council has expressed its unequivocal support for multilingualism, without excluding students who are not proficient in either Afrikaans or English. The policy is based on the principles that the University’s languages of instruction must promote access and academic success, and that the institution’s language policy must serve its academic project. The policy explicitly makes provision for students who prefer to study in Afrikaans, while also improving access to education for students who are proficient in English only. 

According to Mr George Steyn, Council chair, members specifically expressed their strong support for the multilingual context outlined in the new policy. “The revised Language Policy acknowledges SU as a national asset and reaffirms our commitment to the users of Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa, being the three official languages of the Western Cape,” Mr Steyn said.  The institution uses its languages of choice to ensure that no student or staff member is excluded from actively participating in its activities.

The Language Policy also makes provision for mechanisms for academic oversight, effective management and good governance relating to language implementation, within a framework that enables faculties to customise their language implementation plans, and their mechanisms for accountability and reporting to the relevant structures.

The policy confirms that SU is committed to engage with knowledge in a diverse society. It gives effect to the Constitution of South Africa in relation to language usage in the academic, administrative, professional and social contexts of the University, and also advances the institution’s own vision of being inclusive, innovative and future-focused.

In response to media reports on members leaving the Council meeting, Mr Steyn said:

“It is unfortunate that some members of Council left the meeting forthwith after the Language Policy was adopted, although several other agenda points of broad institutional importance were being tabled. During the meeting, I also regrettably received Mr Jannie van der Westhuizen’s resignation with immediate effect. It is a pity, because as a Council, we do appreciate diverse opinions, but we respect majority decisions.”

To read the new Language Policy click here.