Law students have mixed reactions to an announcement that they will no longer be able to write supplementary exams, provided that they are in their final year.
The thought of repeating a year if you fail an exam has left some Law students worried about the length of their degree.
Sanele Maluleke, 4th year LLB, said: “I don’t think it’s fair because the degree itself is hard to attain. In first year you get students who’d get 48% and 49% and need the supp to qualify for the next year. So this has an impact on the duration of when you finish your degree. I mean supps are what actually saves most students because not every student can be an A student”.
In May, an e-mail was sent to all students at the School of Law announcing that “from 2014, after the June exams, going forward the School of Law will only award supplementary exams to final year students in the LLB degree”.
Final year students will be allowed to write a supplementary examination in one course they have failed with a mark of 40%- 49%. If a student fails more than one course, he/she will have to repeat that course the following year.
First to third year students who achieve less than 50% will have to repeat the course the following year.
Zinzile Ndziba, 4th year LLB, complained that the decision “was just thrown at everyone”.
“There was no substantiating [it], it’s just something people have to accept,” Ndziba said.
“It’s not fair,” said 3rd year LLB student Anastasia Thomaids. “Supplementary exams give you pretty much a second chance when you get into an exam and fail it. Not getting that supplementary exam means that you not only don’t get a second chance to write the exam but it means that you have to repeat the course the next year and have to pay extra.”
Quality over quantity?
Other students, however, endorsed the decision based on quality over quantity.
“[I’m] Totally okay with it. That’s why we are at this institution, we’re number one now so I’m cool with it. To meet standards,” said Moswaredi Matabane, 3rd year LLB.
In the same breath, 3rd year LLB student Lis Ndlovu said: “I do think that in the long run it will produce a better quality of students. Essentially, you will work harder instead of working towards getting that 47% or 49% in the hopes of a supplementary exam. It may seem unfair but I understand the benefit that it has for the Law School and the calibre of students that the Law School sends out into the world.”
While the quality over quantity debate seems attractive to some students, Maluleke begs to differ. “I know that there’s a thing for keeping up the standard but I don’t think that it should be at the expense of the students that are in the very university that is putting them on the map,” said Maluleke
Deputy head of school, Prof. Mtende Mhango, said the decision was based on research and recommendations made by the faculty.
Assistant Dean of Commerce, Law and Management, Linda Spark is the main person behind the research conducted for the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee.
“I have presented it [research] to SET who sent it back to faculties and is still being considered. This research is part of a university wide investigation into supps and is still work in progress”, said Spark
Law Student Council (LSC) academic officer Mfundo Mdluli said: “We are engaged with talks with management. We are waiting for feedback which we are expecting by the end of the week.” Asked what kind of talks the LSC is having with management, Mdluli said he’d rather “wait until all is done and there is progress” before he discloses what the LSC is doing regarding the outcry.