Higher education minister Blade Nzimande has placed Unisa under administration.
This was after he dissolved the institution’s council. In a statement on Saturday, higher education spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said Nzimande has appointed former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Prof Ihron Rensburg as administrator for 24 months.
The developments follow independent assessor Prof Themba Mosia’s findings and recommendations.
Mosia’s report preceded a ministerial task team (MTT) report — delivered in August 2021 — which “raised serious concerns about the state of administration and governance as well as the quality and sustainability of Unisa as one of South Africa’s most important universities”.
Mnisi said there were overlaps between the two reports.
“There are strong overlaps and areas of strategic convergence in the findings and recommendations of the reports of the independent assessor and the MTT.
“The MTT concluded that based on the evidence presented to it, Unisa suffers chronic management failures in many of the key support systems, and the council was the root cause of the problems at the university,” the statement reads.
Mnisi said Rensburg will report to the “minister or any delegated officials in the department of higher education & training in writing on a biannual basis”.
He said “at the completion of his appointment period, he is expected to submit a written report to the minister within 30 days”.
“The administrator will take over the role, powers, functions and duties of the council for a period of 24 months,” the statement reads.
“The administrator will carry out the role, exercise the powers, perform the functions and execute the duties of the council to the extent that such role, powers, functions and duties relate to governance.
“Furthermore, the administrator will take over and execute the management of the university.
“The administrator will also identify and initiate processes and initiatives that will restore proper governance and management at the university.”
Mnisi said the “current members of the university executive management will be allowed to serve out their current terms”.
“The administrator must, based on the performance assessment determine whether their terms should be extended or not. Where new senior management appointments must be made, the administrator must ensure that there are necessary employment probity assessments for new recruits,” the statement reads.
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