Message to parents regarding the new language policy

Posted on June 24, 2016

On 22 June 2016, the Council of the University of Pretoria, in concurrence with the recommendation of the Senate, adopted a new language policy. In terms of the new policy, English will become the language of instruction and assessment at the University.

The implementation date is subject to a change in the University’s statute, which requires that we engage with the Department of Higher Education and Training. We will keep you informed of the timelines of this process. For students who are already registered, the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction will be phased out gradually.

We consulted extensively with stakeholders, both internal and external, before reaching this decision. While many factors were taken into consideration, a key factor was the sharply declining proportion of students expressing a preference for Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, which has fallen from around 88% in 1990 to just under 18% in 2016.

The Council also decided that Afrikaans will be maintained as a language of scholarship, while the development of Sepedi to a higher level of scientific discourse must be supported and adequately resourced. To this end, management is preparing an implementation plan, inclusive of staffing needs and a budget in order to provide effective language support to all our students.

As society changes we need to do what is best for our students and the greater community as a whole. This new policy will facilitate social cohesion and promote inclusivity. We as University management will continue to embrace and encourage multilingualism to foster unity and to provide equal opportunities to speakers of all South African languages. 

A strong foundation in academic and professional English will further serve our graduates in advancing research and career success in South Africa, Africa and globally.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact my office. 


Yours faithfully,

Prof Cheryl de la Rey


- Author Department of University Relations

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