Nzimande orders probe into Unisa and its mandate: 'It is clearly too big to fail'

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Higher Education and Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande.
Higher Education and Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande.
Morapedi Mashashe, Daily Sun
  • Blade Nzimande has appointed a task team to review Unisa.
  • He also appointed a team to probe the remuneration of vice-chancellors and senior executives at universities.
  • The higher education, science and technology department's budget cut by almost R10 billion.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande has appointed a ministerial task team to conduct an independent review of the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Nzimande presented his department's adjusted budget to a mini-plenary of the National Assembly in a virtual sitting on Wednesday afternoon, when he made the announcement.

"Given the size of Unisa, not only in South Africa, but on the entire African continent – having 407 759 students in 2020 and growing – it is clearly too big to fail".

ALSO READ | SA's universities need R1.8 billion to be Covid-19 ready

The review will also focus on Unisa's mandate. 

Broader than just Unisa, his department is also working on a review of the Higher Education Act.

"This will assist, among others, to deal with governance collapses in some of the institutions as a result of the conduct of some of the members in governance structures. I am concerned, especially about institutions that are periodically placed under administration," Nzimande said.

He said, since 1998, 15 independent assessors had been appointed at a number of universities in terms of the Act - as a result of poor institutional governance and management.

Nzimande also appointed a ministerial task team to look into the remuneration of vice-chancellors and senior executives, which will submit its research and findings by 31 March 2021.

The department's budget was cut by almost R10 billion.

DA MP Belinda Bozzoi said there is "huge destruction" under way at the department, brought on by Covid-19.

"This destruction is mainly the fault of the ANC government, which has been so busy stealing money that there is none left for a crisis such as this one. More prudent and honest countries are able to pull together emergency funding. This government has failed to do so," she said.

"Much of the president's R500 billion is a mirage. It is pulled from places like Higher Education, Basic Education, Housing and Science and Technology, to their long-lasting detriment. In the end, the president will claim to have found the money, but we will know where it comes from".

In response, Nzimande said: "No one likes a reduction of budget. But we are in the situation we are in now".

He said the government is saving lives and saving livelihoods.  

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