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i 6.3 APPOINTMENT TO GATEWAY POSITIONS The process of appointing students to gateway positions such as Mentors, Research Assistants as well as Junior Lecturers, was also questioned in the grievance document, and in the letter sent to a leader of the convocation, 'n the main grievance, the problem was characterized as follows, “ We demand to know the criteria used for appointing Senior Mentors, because as enquired amongst ourselves, we found that none of South African post-graduate students know where those positions were advertised. To our surprise, all Senior Mentors are intemationals and they were appointed under former Director of Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning: Chetl, Dr Ndebele: An Intemational. This is contrary to what Vice Chancellor and Principal of the university used to tell us; that the university is growing its own timber...” The document continues to state that, ‘Those Senior Mentors who are appointed behind closed door should be replaced by qualified disadvantaged local South Africans by (sic) merit”. Regarding lecturing appointments, the document states, “Lecturer Positions are only given to internationals who are at their own countries or within the university while there are well qualified local South Africans who are not even considered for the posts”, |n a letter to convocation member, Mr Ramaleba, the following was stated, “After to work as part-time registration on post-graduate studies, internationals star Lecturers, Research Assistants, Senior Mentors, etc: without registered SA post- graduates, even knowing the criteria used for them to hold such part-time positions. We (South Africans) always fall under international people as from the students to staff level. They study 100% free and eam SA monies on top of their UNIVEN stipend...” The Investigating Team could not locate a UNIVEN policy on appointment of senior students to Junior Lecturer, Research Assistant and Mentorship posts save for its recruitment policy that governs all recruitments. two ey 4 a a kk ta i However, there is an established protocol whereby, correspondence is sent to Deans of Schools requesting them to nominate persons that they wish to recommend for mentorships. It has been established that the reason why there is a preponderance of intemationals holding gateway posts, is because Deans of Schools tend to recommend the appointment of International Students to the said posts whenever they are requested to make recommendations, Some Deans defended this behaviour by stating that they always recommend candidates on merit regardless of whether the candidates were South African nationals or internationals. “I normally nominate the best | have", said one Professor. Another Professor argued that in his observation, it was not true that international Students were favoured ahead of national students, based on whether one student is an Intemational or @ national. According to him, the country of origin is a Proxy indicator for whether a student is likely to succeed or not. The professor argues that Intemational students are desperate to get their qualifications due to their relative vulnerability associated with being in a foreign land. As such, they tend to be more focused and conscientious. It was submitted that the harsh circumstances faced by internationals students ironically place them at an advantage. it was the informant's considered submission that, most local students on the other hand; tend to lack focus dus to the many responsibilities they carry on thelr shoulders, Responsibilities cited as being unique to national students were largely related to domestic obligations. Another explanation given for why it was easier to recruit interational students to gateway positions than national was the same es was advanced for the reason Why it was relatively easier for an international student to be admitted to post-graduate Studies and to acquire a supervisor with relative ease. One international professor argued that because of pressure to produce research and to publish, every professor would prefer to supervise @ student who would either add value to his research output oF who would be less burdensome to him. In other words, professors preferred to work with sel-directed students rather than students who would need to be ‘baby-seated' {tis no secret that many national students who did their high school education in neighbouring high schools which are natural feeder schools for UNIVEN were not exposed to the best education system. This is a legacy of apartheid education which 44 aq ua i kr ku ww eu would lake many years to address. Itis credit to them that these students manage to acquire university degrees regardless of their poor background, Unfortunately many and certainly not all ofthese students carry the impact of their poor educational background into their postgraduate studies. While most of these are not a measure of academic competency, they tend to limit the students’ capacity to articulate and write well The problem arises when lack of linguistic proficiency is used as a proxy for academic incompetence. On the other end of the spectrum are international students who, owing, to their relatively better education, articulate better and write well That being the case, it was found that many intemational professors tend to prefer working with Senior students with a good command of the English language. As such international students benefit from this phenomenon at the expense of national students. When asked about the problem of linguistic proficiency, most national students readily conceded and argued that instead Of being victimized for what apartheid did to them ‘hey expected the university to acknowledge the problem and develop remedial Programmes for students who needed ‘such an intervention in order for them to advance, Most complainants argued that all they wanted was to be given a fair opportunity to Compete with international students through fair and transparent processes. Most of them were of view that as long as academic management positions are dominated by inlemational academics, the latter would continue to advance the interests of international students at the expense of national students. Some even argued that it Wwas unacceptable for an international student to be offered a job which could be performed by a national student. Some national students also argued that failure by UNIVEN to appoint its own Graduates to gateway jobs, was a naked demonstration of the fact that the university did not have confidence in its own products. One national academic characterize the problem as a mere “competition for scarce Fesourees and space between international students and academics on the one hand, 42