Monday, 06 September 2021

Cape Town: The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology is set to host a colloquium aimed at building stronger links between institutions of higher learning and the public they represent.

“The objective of the colloquium is to engage all stakeholders on the concept of institutional autonomy, aimed at strengthening institutions of higher learning by harnessing a healthy relationship between institutional autonomy and public accountability,” committee chairperson, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, said on Monday.

The committee has invited the South African public to participate in the colloquium on the institutional autonomy of public higher education institutions, which will be held on Friday.

The colloquium will focus on themes including Cooperative Governance in Higher Education: Successes and Failures, and Institutional Autonomy: Enablers and Impediments.

To ensure greater public participation, the committee has invited interested members of the public and all stakeholders to make submissions on the themes.

Submissions must be forwarded to akabingesi@parliament.gov.za. The deadline for submissions is 9 September 2021 at 4pm.

In preparation for the colloquium, the Portfolio Committee will this week convene a series of engagements, which will be an opportunity for all stakeholders, including the leadership of institutions of higher learning, to find the best possible way forward for the sector as a whole.

Mkhatshwa said institutional autonomy is an essential element in the governance of higher education systems, and is a way of ensuring that they achieve their purpose.

Mkhatshwa said the committee is concerned about the state of relations between the State and institutions of higher education in relation to the balance between institutional autonomy, academic freedom and public accountability.

“This emerges [during] ongoing concerns by various stakeholders regarding the use of institutional autonomy and an apparent resistance experienced by various stakeholders when State interventions are required, or when student representative councils and labour critique the state of institutions and call for the implementation of transformative policies and plans.

“The state of this social treaty is of concern to the committee, considering its responsibilities to strengthen legislation governing institutions, its oversight functions to strengthen and improve governance and management, and to ensure public accountability on the use of allocated resources.”