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UNISA Reputation and Autonomy Threatened by Nzimande Administration Attempt



UNISA Reputation and Autonomy Threatened by Nzimande Administration Attempt

UNISA Reputation and Autonomy Threatened by Nzimande Administration Attempt. Dr. Seán Muller, a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies, has expressed concern about Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s unsuccessful attempt to place UNISA under administration. According to Muller, this endeavor not only tarnishes the institution’s reputation but also encroaches upon its autonomy.

Interdiction by High Court

 The High Court in Pretoria took decisive action by interdicting Minister Nzimande from subjecting the University of South Africa (UNISA) to administration. This legal intervention occurred on a Friday.

Challenges Uncovered

 The administration attempt followed the findings of an independent assessor, which highlighted pressing financial and maladministration issues at UNISA. Furthermore, these efforts were seen as undermining the effective functioning of the university.

Preserving Institutional Autonomy

 Muller underscores the importance of preserving institutional autonomy. He emphasizes that while it is essential to respect this autonomy, there is a need for accountability when public funds are involved.

While universities are recipients of substantial public funding, it is vital to strike a balance that prevents excessive government interference and safeguards the freedom of academic institutions. Muller acknowledges that there are mechanisms in place to prevent undue political influence, but accountability measures must also be upheld.

Minister Powers and University Accountability

 Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande possesses the authority to intervene in university affairs, subject to specific requirements. This authority is designed to ensure that universities remain accountable for the public resources they receive. However, it is imperative that this power is wielded judiciously and in a manner that respects the autonomy and academic freedom of these institutions.


The attempt to place UNISA under administration by Minister Nzimande not only jeopardized the university’s reputation but also raised concerns about institutional autonomy and government interference in higher education. The High Court’s interdiction highlights the delicate balance between accountability and autonomy that must be maintained in the administration of public universities.

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