Jobs cull set to hit South Africa

February 4, 2005

Hundreds of jobs will be shed in coming years as mergers between South African universities begin to bite, especially at departments that are duplicated across campuses.

At the University of Fort Hare, alma mater to Nelson Mandela and other African leaders, up to 150 jobs could be lost as it merges with the former Port Elizabeth campus of Rhodes University.

Scores of academics have resigned or taken retrenchment packages at institutions whose mergers took effect in or before January 2004. More cuts are likely as faculties merge.

When the final merger takes place this July, 21 universities will have been created out of a former 36 universities and polytechnics, in a restructuring aimed at ending the apartheid system, which led to duplication of departments, and improving efficiency.J Ntlawini Nkantini, president of the National Tertiary Education Staff Union, said job losses would "probably be in the hundreds".

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