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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 10. July 15, 1954


A Commission of Enquiry has recently been set up "to investigate and report on the practicability and financial implications of providing separate training facilities for non-Europeans at Universities."

We, the undersigned, wish to express our alarm at the exclusion from these terms of reference of what must surely be regarded as the fundamental underlying questions. These questions are: Can it be shown that "special training facilities" are in fact necessary, more especially at those universities which traditionally do not practice academic segregation? Is there any need to interfere with the existing rights and freedoms of such universities? And, finally, is there any advantage to be gained, either educationally or in the field of race relations, through imposing academic "apartheid" in all South African universities?

Professor Hughes Cartoon

Professor George E. Hughes in pensive mood

Four different systems operate in South Africa at present. First, there is the University of Potchefstroom, whose Charter permits it to admit European students only. Secondly, the Universities of Stellenbosch. Pretoria and the Orange Free State, though not restricted by their Charters, in practice, do not admit nonEuropeans. Rhodes is in like position, but does admit non-Europcan post-graduate students. The University College of Fort Hare, affiliated to Rhodes gives preference to nonEuropean students. Thirdly, there is the University of Natal, which conducts separate classes for Europeans and non-Europeans. Fourthly, there are the open universities of the Witwatersrand and Cape Town, which, with certain exceptions due to practical considerations, admit non-Europeans on the same criteria as Europeans.

The practice followed by the open universities has not given rise to friction or internal tension. On the contrary, successive generations of students have enthusiastically affirmed the wisdom and correctness of opening the University to non-European students, while similar resolutions have been passed by the University Council and staff. It is significant that the students of Rhodes and the Convocation of Natal voted by overwhelming majorities against academic segregation.