How do you solve a problem like SMU?

Rogue elements are preventing Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University from flourishing. It needs help

Imagine you are a treated by a doctor or dentist who in every year of his or her studies lost about one-and-a-half to three months of academic training. Stop imagining. If you are served by a graduate of the country’s only specialist university, your life could be in danger. Welcome to Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), a once promising institution named after the second president of the ANC.

Here, unfolding before our eyes, is a national tragedy affecting 6,000 students that nobody in politics or education seems to care about. The roots of dysfunction at this campus stretches way back to its origins as the Medical University of SA (Medunsa) in a tumultuous year, 1976. In those days it was not uncommon to chase university leaders off campus, disrupt classes and cause general mayhem as a way of life. Some of my friends and colleagues, distinguished academics, never went back. That culture of chronic instability would become ingrained in the institution in its various forms, whether as the Ga-Rankuwa campus of the University of Limpopo (2005) or since 2015 as a fully-fledged higher education institution...

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