Institutional autonomy of public higher education institutions

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Higher Education, Science and Innovation

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education Science and Technology will be convening a series of engagements on institutional autonomy of public higher education institutions. 

The objective of the colloquium is to engage all stakeholders on the concept of institutional autonomy, aimed at strengthening institutions of higher learning by harnessing a healthy relationship between institutional autonomy and public accountability,

The colloquium which will be held on Friday (10 September 2021) will focus on the following themes: Cooperative Governance in Higher Education: Successes and Failures; and Institutional Autonomy: Enablers and Impediments.

To ensure greater public participation, the Committee invites interested members of the public and all stakeholders to make submissions to [email protected] by no later than 16:00 on 9 September 2021.

 Committee Chairperson Ms Nompendulo Mkhatshwa says “the colloquium presents all stakeholders, including the leaders of institutions of higher learning with an opportunity to find the best possible way forward for the sector as a whole”.
Institutional autonomy, according to Ms Mkhatshwa, is an essential element in the governance of higher education systems to ensure that they achieve their purpose. The committee is concerned about the state of the social treaty between the state and institutions of higher education in relation to the balance between institutional autonomy, academic freedom and public accountability.

This emerges after on-going concerns by various stakeholders regarding the use of institutional autonomy and an apparent resistance experienced by various stakeholders and an apparent resistance experienced by various stakeholders when state interventions are required or when student representative councils and labour critique the state of institutions and call for the implementation of transformative policies and plans.
The state of this social treaty is of concern to the committee, considering its responsibilities to strengthen legislation governing institutions; but, also its oversight functions to strengthen and improve governance and management, and ensure public accountability on the use of allocated resources.