Unisa Strong Condemnation of Administration Decision. In a recent development, the University of South Africa (Unisa) has been placed under administration, a move that has stirred controversy and opposition. This announcement followed a series of contentious interactions between the university and the Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande. Unisa has vehemently criticized the Minister’s decision, deeming it both misguided and insensitive.
Administrative Oversight: Unisa New Reality
The Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has imposed a two-year period of administration on Unisa, beginning on October 27. This administrative decision involves the appointment of Professor Ihron Rensburg as the Administrator, who will be required to provide biannual reports to the department. Additionally, Nzimande has decided to dissolve the University Council, further intensifying the university’s administrative transition.
Legal Challenges and Objections
Mametlwe Sebei, a lecturer in the Jurisprudence Department at Unisa, has strongly objected to this decision, seeking its reversal. He contends that the Minister’s decision is legally flawed, as it misinterprets the impact of an application for leave to appeal a previous judgment, assuming that it suspends the operation of an interdict.
Unisa stands firmly against the Minister’s actions and points to a recent court order that initially prevented him from placing the institution under administration. The university views the Minister’s announcement as premature and in contempt of a court order issued on October 6, 2023, by Justice Kooverjie. Sebei argues that the lack of prior notice is in violation of the Higher Education Act, and the Minister’s actions are in contempt of the court.
Legal Action and Ongoing Developments
In response to the Minister’s decision, Unisa has taken the matter to court on an urgent basis, challenging the announcement made on October 27, 2023. The university promises to keep its community updated as the legal proceedings unfold.
Understanding Unisa Administration
Unisa’s placement under administration carries significant implications. The Administrator’s role includes assuming the responsibilities of the University Council and overseeing the university during the specified period. Key tasks involve reestablishing proper governance, devising a turnaround plan to address identified issues, conducting a forensic audit to tackle financial irregularities, and reviewing the university’s statutes and policies.
Furthermore, the focus will shift towards enhancing Unisa’s performance as an Open Distance e-Learning institution, supporting student success, and reconstituting the council with assessments of potential members’ probity.
Controversy Surrounding Administrative Measures
Mametlwe Sebei, in conjunction with the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Unisa, has raised concerns that institutions placed under administration often emerge from the period in a worse state. This assertion underlines the deep reservations held by some within the Unisa community regarding the Minister’s decision and its potential consequences.