The Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University of the Free State (UFS) has welcomed the Constitutional Court judgment in favour of the institution’s language policy where English is the primary medium of instruction.

The court dismissed an appeal by civil rights organisation Afriforum and trade union Solidarity against the university’s language policy.

In 2016, the University of the Free State adopted a new language policy.  This saw English become the primary medium of instruction, replacing Afrikaans and English as parallel mediums of instruction.

The university says the policy has already been implemented in at least three faculties at first year level.

University Rector and Vice Chancellor, Professor Francis Petersen, says the judgment has paved the way for the policy to be fully implemented.

“I also want to say in the same vain as I articulated in a statement that we don’t see this a victory against Afrikaans. In fact we still continue to develop Afrikaans as an academic language.”

The SRC has acknowledged the efforts by the university to deal with language issues at the institution.

SRC President Asive Dlanjwa, “This is something that for years we have longed and complained about to say that the dual language policy was not assisting in terms of redress and the transformation that needs to take place at the institution. We therefore welcome the judgment by the Constitutional Court. We think it is very clear and we want to also note and acknowledge the efforts of the University executive management for being resilient.”

However, AfriForum is disappointed with the outcomes.

AfriForum CEO Alana Bailey says it will not give up highlighting issues of language policies in the country.

“We are disappointed by the ruling as we see is in contravention of international best practices regarding not only language right, but also educational principles.”

The university management says it is committed to the language policy.