Court Rules in Favour of Unisa, Rejects Minister's Administrator Decision



After the court's decision on Wednesday, the future and governance of South Africa's largest university is uncertain. The court mandated that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande retract his announcement to place Unisa under administration.



The University of South Africa (Unisa) has welcomed the ruling made by Pretoria High Court on Wednesday which said the appointment of an administrator at the institution was unlawful. The appointment of an administrator at Unisa has been on the cards for months. 

Minister of Higher Education Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande announced the appointment of an administrator on Tuesday. This minister came to this decision after months of careful consideration in which they studied the findings of reports into Unisa operations.

The Independent Assessor report by Professor Themba Mosia and the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report underscored serious concerns relating to Unisa's governance, administration, quality, and sustainability. 

These concerns have been attributed to management shortcomings within crucial support systems and actions taken by the university's council.

The university slammed the minister’s decision labelling it as ill-considered and insensitive as students at Unisa are currently writing exams.

Unisa believes the decision made by the court on Wednesday, requiring Nzimande to retract his decision to appoint an administrator was correct. 

They explain this as the matter pertains to the review of the Independent Assessor Report, which largely formed the basis of the Minister’s decision, is still before the court and yet to be concluded.

The university believes that this court decision is sound and correct

The Court Stated The Following 

  • The matter was dealt with as one of urgency.
  • The application for the joinder of further applicants is granted, with no order as to costs.
  • It is declared that the Minister’s decision published in Government Gazette number 49582 Vol. 700 dated 27 October 2023 is in breach of the order granted on 24 August 2023 by Honourable Adams J and unlawful.
  • The Minister must immediately retract the Government Gazette number 49582 Vol. 700 dated 27 October 2023.
  • The parties are granted leave to approach the Deputy Judge President of the Gauteng High Court for a date and time for consideration of the issue of contempt.

Unisa’s management is urging its staff and students to remain focused on their academic goals despite the recent court developments. 

The management of the university once again appeals to staff and students not to let these developments in court defocus them from the task of ensuring that the academic project forges ahead unabated.

The university adds that its actions are not aimed at fighting the Minister but rather at fulfilling its responsibility to protect the institution and its stakeholders from any unnecessary disruption.

Student Reaction 

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) Asive Dlanjwa says they have bemoaned the fact that Nzimande had previously adopted a hands-off approach to the running of institutions. They believe this type of approach could lead to the collapse of an institution.

One of the recommendations would have been putting the university under Administration because for the longest time we have been bemoaning The Minister's 'hands-off' approach in the sector where he sits back and lets institutions collapse

Dlanjwa acknowledges that Unisa is facing significant challenges, such as governance instability and administrative issues. These issues are directly impacting students. 

There have been administrative issues at Unisa which you know about. I know about it. You see on social media, pertaining to students' ability to participate in academics at Unisa, whether it be assignments, whether it be module codes. 

They concluded that Unisa is a national asset and stressed the importance of safeguarding the institution for the benefit of all students and the country as a whole. They say it is unfortunate that stakeholders are not working together for the benefit of the institution. 

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Blade Nzimande

Unisa have strongly criticised the decision made by Higher Education Minister to place the institution under administration. The university have raised several concerns about the timing of this decision as students are currently writing their final exams. 




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