Students strike after being refused masters degree entry

Students who have completed their first degree but have not been selected to continue for a master’s course have gone on strike in the faculty of arts and human sciences of the country’s leading university, Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD).

Pierre Sarr, faculty dean at UCAD in Dakar, explained the problem at a press conference, following a faculty meeting which called on the university authorities to ensure the security of staff and property so teaching could proceed undisrupted, reported the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise (APS).

“That would help defuse the situation with the students who have obstructed courses for several days,” said Sarr.

He said the disruption was due to a minority of Romance languages and history students who had graduated with a “licence” (three-year first degree, or bachelor equivalent) but failed to get a place for the first year of masters studies.

Selection for licence graduates, and for masters graduates wishing to continue for a doctorate, was introduced in 2013, and followed strict academic criteria, reported Sud Quotidien of Dakar.

Sarr explained that: “In the department of Romance languages there were 323 students who fulfilled the criteria for selection. But I emphasise that it is not just because a student fulfils the selection criteria that they must be selected,” reported APS.

“There are seven teachers for the 323 students, and out of these seven teachers there are five who are authorised to supervise. They have selected 98 students, which fits the ratio of 19 students for one teacher,” said Sarr.

Those same teachers were responsible for supervising the two years of masters studies, then doctorates, and for teaching and correcting students’ work, “let alone carrying out research”, he said.

The situation had become untenable for the faculty’s teachers, who had nevertheless managed to keep to their schedule since 2013.

“Even if we have managed to follow the licence schedule we have enormous problems regarding the masters, for which we don’t know when the first semester, a teaching semester, will start, or when it will finish, and when the second semester, which must be for research, will start,” APS quoted Sarr as saying.

He said the problem was due to the growing numbers of students at both licence and masters levels, as well as the much reduced number of teachers who could supervise masters studies.

The selection criteria made it possible to select students objectively, and the students knew these criteria, said Sarr.

Because students had succeeded in passing their licence they should not insist on staying on at university; the degree was a “way out” that allowed them to continue elsewhere, just as a masters or a doctorate were “ways out”, he said. – Compiled by Jane Marshall

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.