Unisa Admits To Report Allegations But Questions Investigation Process

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The reputation of South Africa's largest distance learning university has been brought into question, following a damning report. However, the investigative process has been criticized by some of the university's staff members.

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The University of South Africa (Unisa) has acknowledged the existence of serious governance and operational issues within its institution. 

In response to the release of the Report of the Independent Assessor into the affairs of Unisa by Higher Minister Blade Nzimande, the university's council has expressed its commitment to addressing these challenges while assuring stakeholders that improvements have been made.

While Unisa is still in the process of reviewing the report and formulating an official response, the council recognizes the public's interest in the state of the university. To meet the expectations of internal and external stakeholders, the council aims to provide a comprehensive response to the report in due course.

It is important to note that despite the acknowledged problems, Unisa emphasizes that its core values and principles, including learning, teaching, research, and engaged scholarship, remain intact. 

Mametlwe Sebei, who is a lecturer at the university went on to say that although the allegations contained in the report are long-standing challenges, it failed to acknowledge existing improvements at the institution which are reflective of its current state.

The university’s lecture further stated that Unisa’s financial viability is strong, and its quality assurance systems have been endorsed by both local and international authorities.

“Just in 2021, it has improved this position by R2.3 billion. It has increased its financial reserves by almost 6 to 7 billion in a space of two years by dismantling corrupt networks that are captured University Supply Chain Management”

The governance and operational challenges faced by Unisa are significant, but the university maintains that it is far from collapsing or descending into chaos.

Unisa added that allegations against university officials will be subject to appropriate internal processes or legal systems to ensure thorough investigations and accountability.

The purpose of the independent assessor's report, as stated in a September 2022 statement, is to identify the root causes of problems at Unisa and recommend measures to restore good governance and management. 

The investigation covers various areas, including the functioning of governance and management structures, the operations of the Office of the Registrar, financial management policies and procedures, human resource practices, staff disciplinary cases, and allegations against the Vice-Chancellor.

The upcoming comprehensive response to the report will shed further light on the university's plans for improvement and rectifying its state of affairs. Unisa added that it aims to regain public trust and reaffirm its position as a respected educational institution.

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