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UCT Prof defends vexed study on black students not studying biological sciences

Professor Nicoli Nattrass' controversial paper was published by the South African Journal of Science last month and was blasted as dehumanising and patronising.

FILE: The University of Cape Town university had distanced itself from the paper and plans to investigate the matter. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN – The University of Cape Town (UCT) professor behind a study that sparked widespread debate has hit back at her detractors and defended her work.

Professor Nicoli Nattrass' study suggested various circumstances, including inequalities in schooling and attitudes towards wildlife influenced by socio-economic circumstances, and "fallist" protests play a role in black students not choosing to study biological sciences.

The controversial paper was published by the South African Journal of Science last month and was blasted as dehumanising and patronising.

Professor Nattrass said the results of her study were presented to an international institutional review panel chaired by a UCT deputy vice chancellor.

She claimed the panel encouraged her to publish a commentary as a contribution to the transformation debate.

But the university distanced itself from the paper and plans to investigate the matter.

In a statement it said t's concerned the paper had methodological and conceptual flaws and that it was constructed on unexamined assumptions about what black people think, feel, aspire to and are capable of.

Nattrass has rejected these claims.

_ To read Professor Nicoli Nattrass' study, as published in the SA Journal of Science, click here_