Question NW3711 to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

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22 November 2023 - NW3711

Profile picture: Mkhatshwa, Ms NT

Mkhatshwa, Ms NT to ask the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

What are the relevant details of the challenges impacting the University of South Africa?


The challenges are explained in detail in two reports that have assessed the affairs of the University, namely the Report of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on the Strategic Review of the University of South Africa (2021) and the Report of the Independent Assessor (2022). Some of the key challenges are as follows:

  • Failure by the University to make adequate provision for dramatic change in the profile of the student body, implementing enrolment targets which were unrealistic and, in some cases, even irresponsible, considering the lack of the institution’s teaching capacity.
  • Failure to provide appropriate strategic guidance and direction to a modern Open Distance e-Learning (OdeL) institution in the 21st Century.
  • Failure to address the weaknesses that have frustrated the implementation of its strategic priorities. The weaknesses include dysfunctional and outdated ICT infrastructure which compromised the health of the academic enterprise; collapsed basic assurance services and functions necessary to ensure effective governance; ineffective risk management and control processes; retention of a deeply-embedded culture of non-compliance and impunity; chronic management failures in many of the key support systems such as supply chain management, human resource management, compliance and finance and a gross neglect of consequence management.
  • Failure to establish an enabling and ethical culture, and has allowed an all-pervasive culture of corruption, conflict, fear and intimidation to prevail.
  • Dysfunctionality of the Office of the Registrar, particularly as it relates to student administration, leaving students frustrated. This is compounded exploitation of students by fraudulent tutors because of poor protection of student’s personal information.
  • Lack of appreciation of good governance, as demonstrated by outdated statute, policies and adherence to governance instruments. For instance, the Management knowingly took irregular financial decisions that have had far-reaching consequences for the University, namely the selective salary adjustments to academic staff and some portion of the support staff, the laptop scheme, etc. These were condoned by the Council.
  • For a long time, Council had reduced the delegation of authority (DoA) of management, and in doing so interfered in matters that ordinarily fell within the purview of Management.

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