The Law Accreditations review of the LLB degree at a number of South African universities are a good thing. 

Students should not panic about the accreditation statuses of university LLB qualifications, as the current national review will only benefit students by improving the quality of legal education at tertiary institutions.

This is according to Siyanda Makaula, senior manager at the National Standards and Reviews directorate at the  Council on Higher Education (CHE). The review was initiated by the CHE earlier this month.

“Students shouldn’t be concerned, instead they should be happy because it’ll only help them,” says Makaula. The aim of programme evaluations are to protect current and future students by making sure that the qualification they receive is of good quality, he added.

A statement reflecting the outcomes of the review was released by CHE on April 12, indicating that accreditation had been withdrawn from four universities, namely, North West University (NWU); University of South Africa (Unisa); Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and the University of the Free State (UFS). Thirteen other universities, including Wits, will be re-accredited depending on whether they meet specified conditions. No university has received a confirmation of their accreditation.

Makaula says that universities have received institutional review reports that raise issues which are specific to individual institutions and confidential. He says CHE expects detailed plans from all universities affected within the next six months.

Professor Engela Schlemmer, acting head of the Wits Law School (WLS), says that one of the ways that the law school would like to assist Wits Law students is by embarking on projects to raise money which will ensure access to books, as this is one of the challenges that law students face. This, however, is not one of the issues raised within the national review according to Schlemmer. According to statistics and the throughput rate of Wits graduands, what has been beneficial to the Wits programme has been the integration of BA and BComm qualifications with law as opposed to doing an LLB straight away, according to Schlemmer.

“Our graduand throughput rate is better, and their entry into the marketplace is smoother,” says Schlemmer.