University of The Free State Language Policy
The University of the Free State (UFS) can now implement its new language policy‚ after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled in its favour in the institution’s dispute with pressure group AfriForum.
The university was appealing against an order of the full bench of the High Court in Bloemfontein‚ which directed that its order delivered in July — setting aside the university’s old language policy — should not be suspended pending the determination of the appeal by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
In March this year‚ the UFS council decided to adopt a new language policy with effect from the academic year.
This new policy provides for English as the primary medium of instruction at the university‚ a departure from the 2003 policy which provided for parallel medium instruction in Afrikaans and English.
Aggrieved by this‚ AfriForum went to the high court to review and set aside the decision.
The high court set aside the decision in July.
While the university applied for and obtained leave to appeal the judgment‚ AfriForum applied for an order implementing the order of the full bench‚ pending the finalisation of the appeal.
In September‚ the full bench ordered that its judgment of July remain in place pending the finalisation of the appeal.
This meant the university would not have been able to implement its new language policy before the appeal was heard.
On Thursday‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in the university’s favour.
It found that AfriForum had failed to show that any of the Afrikaans-speaking students whose interests they claimed to represent‚ would suffer irreparable harm if the university was allowed to implement the new policy.
The effect of the order of the SCA is that‚ pending the finalisation of the main appeal‚ the university is entitled to implement the new policy.