Unisa VC Disappointed By Findings Of Scathing Report



South Africa's largest university has been under the spotlight during the last few months and not for its academic achievements. A scathing report made damning allegations against members of the university's executive prompting a response from the institutions vice-chancellor. 



Maladministration, poor financial management and an inept administration that disregards procurement processes were just some of the concerning findings made by Professor Themba Mosia's independent report. The scathing 300-page report submitted to the Department of Higher Education four months ago detailing the state of affairs at the University of South Africa (Unisa)

As a response to the report, students, workers, and workers' unions, including the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) are calling for the resignation of Unisa's Vice-Chancellor, Prof Puleng LenkaBula, and the universities council.

Demands for action have surged following the release of the report, which has highlighted serious concerns about the university's governance and management.

Issues At Unisa

One of the alarming issues raised by students is the inadequate online systems used by the country’s largest university. Students have alleged multiple issues with their online systems, including assignments being left unmarked which resulted in many students participating in exams without knowing if they qualified to do so.

Issues with universities' online systems are of great concern as Unisa is a distance learning institution. The university uses an Open Distance e-Learning (ODeL) education model meaning that learning, teaching and examinations are online. 

Within the report, the VC was accused of participating in irregular spending, an allegation they strongly deny. Unisa has also chosen to dispute the findings of the report, defending its administrative practices. 

VC Disappointed With Report Findings 

Prof. LenkaBula says they are disappointed by the report's findings and defended their efforts to improve systems, mechanisms, and academic support structures to ensure the success of financially disadvantaged students, pointing out that significant progress has been made, particularly in enhancing the ICT infrastructure.

LenkaBula also questioned the impartiality of the report compiled by Prof. Mosia. This is because Mosia previously worked with members of the current Unisa executive committee members. 

I am quite disappointed with the report, first and foremost. Not because it has made findings against me or the university. I think the so-called independent ministerial report is not as independent as it claims to be

LenkaBula is not disappointed that these relationships exist, given Mosia’s status as the university’s Vice-Principal, but rather expresses disappointment in the non-disclosure of these relationships within the report by Prof. Mosia.

They add that disciplinary measures have been taken against some of their leaders who were not conducting themselves in ways that were aligned with how universities must function. 

LenkaBula argues misogynistic attacks against women vice-chancellors and even women in leadership in the private sector, to a large extent reduce women’s leadership to trivialities. 

I think the misogynistic attacks on women vice-chancellors, or even women in leadership in the private sector, to a large extent, reduce women’s leadership to trivialities. 

Weakening Professorship At Unisa 

LenkaBula has refuted claims that Unisa has weakened the criteria for professorship appointments and adds that the university maintains transparent and quality-based criteria for such appointments

I’m aware that Unisa pays attention to the quality of professor rates… so I’m not going to accept that Unisa has dumbed down the professor rate in this country. Actually, it’s one of the most transparent universities around the criteria of the professor rate.

The VC is also confident that the university has the necessary expertise and skills in place to handle its governance and operations.

We have allowed people in this country to just talk without substantiating their complaints with facts and it has allowed fake news to dissipate and disseminate higher learning institutions

LenkaBula concluded by calling on individuals with information on alleged corruption at Unisa to report it to relevant law enforcement agencies rather than spreading unsubstantiated information. 

The report compiled by Mosia also details alleged widespread cheating in Unisa online examinations. The VC says invigilator apps and proctoring tools ensure exam integrity and prevent plagiarism.

Our students must know that we will not stop the use of invigilation systems because we are online. After all, that is the way to ensure that their exams are quality and we do not plagiarism for any nefarious reasons. 

Higher Education Minister Nzimande said they will have to consider all findings detailed in the report and then make a decision. The minister intends to release the full report to the public in due course. 

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