The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) welcomes the Minister’s decision to place the University of South Africa (UNISA) under administration.
Being the largest higher education institution in South Africa, UNISA should be the model for good corporate governance and financial accountability, however the actions and inaction of Council have clearly shown them incapable of fulfilling their fiduciary duties. The report by the independent assessor paints a grim picture of maladministration at the institution. The 309 page report, gazetted on 26 May 2023, finds an institution in deep trouble and unable to self-correct.
In June this year NTEU wrote to the Minister following the publication of the assessors report into UNISA, as well as the report regarding CUT. These reports, the on-going grave concerns around Fort Hare and other institutions points to a higher education sector struggling to overcome corrupt and incompetent elements in positions of power and influences within universities. University management and governance structures have largely become a law unto themselves and hide behind “institutional autonomy” to side-step accountability.
“At our National Congress on 26 September our delegates engaged with the Minister’s representative, Mr Nqandela, and resolved to support a call for amendments to the Higher Education Act in an aim to hold university governance structures to greater accountability,” commented Grant Abbott, NTEU’s General Secretary. “Placing a university under administration should be an absolute last resort, but the Act gives the Minister very little power to intervene otherwise.”
NTEU supports all actions taken to bring institutions in line with the 1997 white paper on Transformation in Higher Education. This white paper outlines the need for democratic values involving all stakeholders in decision-making processes in universities. “The value of inclusivity in decision-making is strongly highlighted in the white paper and in almost all cases where poor governance and financial mismanagement exist, you will find a strained relationship with one or more critical stakeholders such as SRCs and organised labour.” Abbott added.
In the case of Fort Hare, the Minister instructed the Council to meet with stakeholders when he visited the institution on 22 June 2023. The instruction was time-based, in that the Council needed to do this and report back within 30 days. The NTEU GS revealed that to date, the union is still awaiting the invite from the Chair of Council to meet and discuss their concerns in compliance with the Minister’s instruction, however, “it seems that this captured institution is quite satisfied to ignore the Minister.”, said Abbott.
NTEU will further engage with any and all stakeholders across the Post School Education and Training sector who are interested in working together against university capture and against VCs and Council Chairs who are busy enriching themselves at the expense of the poor and marginalised.
NTEU Brand & Communications Manager
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NTEU is a politically non-aligned trade union organizing exclusively in the Higher Education sector and is aligned to FEDUSA, the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa.