UCT's admissons policies: Is the playing field level?

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South African Journal of Higher Education

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University of Cape Town

The article outlines how UCT’s commitment to redress and diversity has officially guided the university’s approach to admissions planning. In 2009 the Senate requested the Vice Chancellor to conduct a review of the admissions policy particularly to determine whether race continued to be an adequate proxy for disadvantage. This article analyses data prepared by the Institutional Planning Department of the University to support the review process, reflecting changes in the demographic profiles of all students and first-time entering (FU) intakes between 1994 and 2009. The data provide a more nuanced picture of offers, rejections and enrolments by race and poverty quintile of the 2009 new undergraduate intake. The article then goes on to assess the effects of various policy instruments used to facilitate access to UCT, demonstrating that the Academic Development Programmes have been the most significant instruments of facilitating access. Drawing on the analysis of the data, the article concludes that there is no empirical basis for arguing that race should no longer be a factor in admissions, given that the proportion of black students at UCT is still far from approximating that of the South African population, and that the percentage of black students in 23 of 44 programmes is less than 24 (the Western Cape proportion of blacks).