The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) has come out in defence of the Department of Architecture and Spatial Training (DASP) after talks surfaced that the department has been pushing for entry tests to be written only by potential Bachelor of Architecture students for the 2018 academic year from “hand-picked” schools.
This, according to insiders is a discriminatory exercise as the application process is not open to all aspiring architects at the university.
A source familiar with operations at NUST told this reporter that the Department of Architecture and Spatial Training normally gets its students from “only learners from privileged schools whereas other deserving learners from less-privileged schools are side-lined”.
“The entry test is normally written by learners from a few selected schools. These include your St Pauls, St George’s and a few others,” said the source before adding that it was only with the intervention of NUST’s Registrar, Corneels Jafta that the practice was declared illegal.
This has been going on for some time now, according to the source.
However, NUST’s director of communications and marketing Kaitira Kandjii has rubbished the claims of discrimination in the said department.
“The Namibia University of Science and Technology is open to all applicants regardless of social status, ethnic background, gender and race. Candidates must meet the requirements of the programmes they wish to study and the best performing candidates are considered. However, selection processes vary for specialised programmes such as Architecture.”
To further discredit the claims, Kandjii said: “Since the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning’s inception in 2010, students from different school in various regions have been accommodated in the limited spaces. This includes students from schools such as Caprivi Secondary, Mweshipandeka Secondary (School) and Windhoek Gymnasium, thus showing the variety of candidates registered in the Department.”
He added that the department can only accommodate a limited number of students per year.
The admission process
Kandjii said there is a rigorous selection process to be admitted into the programme that involves three stages.
To qualify for the Bachelor of Architecture, a student must have obtained at least 14 points on the NUST evaluation scale for English and Mathematics using a combination of National Senior Secondary Certificate Higher level (NSSCH) and or National Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary level (NSSCO).
Additionally, no symbol lower than a C on NSSCO will be accepted and a minimum of 21 points on the NUST evaluation scale for any three other architecture-related subjects. In total, a learner must have obtained a minimum of 35 points.
A further assessment to test general knowledge, abilities and experience as well as freehand drawing skills by means of the Architecture Selection Test is conducted.
Lastly, candidates who are shortlisted after the above stages are invited to participate in the final selection interview.
Additionally, the selection process is approved by Senate and the Registrar, therefore ensuring transparency, according to Kandjii.
Chief among its successes, the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning has produced five cohorts of Bachelor of Architecture and four cohorts of Bachelor of Architecture Honours graduates (61 graduates) since 2010.
“Some of these graduates have been absorbed by industry whilst some have gone on to further their studies in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
“The NUST undergraduate and postgraduate Architecture Programmes are accredited and recognised regionally and internationally,” he noted.
More so, two Architecture Honours students from NUST won the annual Murray & Roberts Des Baker Architecture Students Design Competition in South Africa. Their project, entitled “Architecture of Crisis – Windhoek Communal Borehole Wells,” was awarded the first prize ahead of 16 entries from mainly South African Schools of Architecture by a high-ranking international jury.
The Department was granted “unconditional” validation[accreditation] status for its Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Architecture Honours programme by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) and the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA).
“One of the benefits of this validation is that SACAP and CAA will be able to endorse the NUST architecture qualifications and recommend them to a variety of international validation authorities, thus attracting the best staff and students beyond Namibia’s borders,” Kandjii added before adding that the DASP received the Glen Murcutt Folio from the Architecture Foundation Australia.
Although the Department continues to make strides, financial constraints remain a great challenge.
This has an impact on infrastructure developments, staff and student recruitment, Kandjii bemoaned.