News & Media

It’s time to complete Unisa’s reinvention

Confident of the scientific diagnosis Unisa has made of the current systemic and epistemic crisis, the VC said we must by now be bold to implement curriculum change.

“While cognisant of the fact that the South African higher education sector has been beset by a wave of protests that has rocked its foundations in the last two years, on a scale that has not been experienced since the advent of our democratic dispensation, we at Unisa must take it as an opportunity to complete the reinvention of our institution that started in 2004.” Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Unisa was speaking at opening ceremony of the academic year this morning.

He said that the year 2018 must be one of doing change, that is, a year of vigorous and uncompromising implementation of Unisa’s transformation plans and policies as well as delivery of service to students.

According to the VC, introspection is very necessary because Unisa is, without doubt, a major contributor to the South African knowledge economy through its graduates, and is clearly a national and continental asset. “We enrol more than a third of all higher education students in South Africa and produce the majority of African graduates. We must, therefore, be consistently aware of the burden of history and the future we are carrying as Unisa,” he said.

Confident of the scientific diagnosis Unisa has made of the current systemic and epistemic crisis, the VC said we must by now be bold to implement curriculum change.

Rethinking thinking itself

“In our endeavour to deliver a fundamentally changed curriculum, we have to consistently and systematically ‘rethink thinking’ itself and even ‘unthink’ some inherited ideas, theories, and concepts,” the VC urged.

With Unisa is celebrating  its 145-year anniversary, Sakhi Simelane, Chairperson of the Unisa Council, said that this year and we need to once again commit ourselves to creating a culture of passion for what Unisa represents, and in the process create a university that is a high-performance, service-focused and people-centred institution. “In such a space Unisa will become a caring community and as an employer will give expression to and demonstrate the values of social justice and fairness, and excellence with integrity,” he said.

With Unisa is celebrating its 145 year anniversary, Sakhi Simelane, Chairperson of the Unisa Council said that this year we need to once again commit ourselves to creating a culture of passion for what Unisa represents, and in the process create a university that is a high-performance, service-focused and people-centred institution.

Accountability is key

Notwithstanding Unisa’s executive management, Simelane encouraged the institution’s councillors to continue to take the responsibilities seriously and encourage unity in the execution of their responsibilities. He explained that it is important to remind themselves that as councillors they are tasked with the responsibility to govern the institution. By so doing, they provide oversight over the financial affairs, affairs relating to quality instruction and proper evaluation of students, its general reputation and standing within South Africa and also in the rest of the world and, in general, for the maintenance of good order in the affairs of the institution. “Council can only achieve this by providing general policies for management to implement and conduct the day-to-day running of the institution. However, the management must always be accountable to the Council for the decisions and conduct regarding the day-to-day management of such institution,” urged Simelane.

Simelane ended on an affirmative note by congratulating all Unisans who were recognised for a variety of the contributions they had made to the university and the South African community at large. “I encourage you to continue making this university a shining example and a beacon of hope for many South Africans,” he said with a smile.

The academic opening ceremony was also the perfect platform for the recognition and receiving of several awards and certificates. These included the Chairperson of Council Awards for Excellence, the College Graduate Excellence Awards, the Senate Awards, and the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) certificates.

Click below for the VC’s full speech in SA’s eleven official languages:

Click here for the Chairperson of Council’s full speech.