Minister convenes summit on Walter Sisulu University’s future

Pretoria: Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande will next Tuesday convene a summit on issues that continue to pose a significant challenge to the functioning of Walter Sisulu University (WSU).

The WSU was formed on 1 July 2005 as a result of the merger between the former University of Transkei and the former Border and Eastern Cape Technikons.

However, since its inception, the university has been beset with financial, governance and management challenges that have impacted negatively on the institution and its financial stability.

An independent assessor, that was appointed to investigate the affairs of WSU, found that the university was an institution in crisis, with the all-encompassing collapse of systems, governance and financial management.

This was followed by the appointment of Professor Lourens van Staden as the University Administrator from November 2011, in terms of Section 41 of the Higher Education Act (Act No. 101 of 1997), as amended.

The administrator has also highlighted a number of challenges that still need to be acknowledged and if unresolved, they will continue to impose risks on the future, viability and sustainability of the institution.

According to the department, the summit to be held at Umthatha Health Resource Centre, will thoroughly consider all matters that warrant immediate and long-term interventions relating to governance, management, student and staff issues and most importantly, academic provision at WSU.

“As deliverables of this summit, it is envisaged that matters to be address by the incoming council and funding imperatives for the attention of the Department of Higher Education and Training would be identified. All stakeholders will make pledges, committing themselves to shaping the post-administration future of WSU,” the department said.

Participants at the summit include student formations, trade union leadership, senior management, leadership of all concerned political parties, members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, community leadership, the business forum and Higher Education South Africa (HESA) – the leadership body of University Vice-Chancellors.