Regulatory overkill threatens academic autonomy


Regulatory overkill threatens academic autonomy

Ihoron Rensburg, vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, writes as follows in the Business Day (31.01.2013): "In recent months he has been responsible for three sets of regulatory interventions. All three have onerous implications for universities, eroding not only their institutional autonomy, but also their capabilities in their core business: teaching, learning and research...
The erosion of university autonomy in these new legislative interventions is downright perilous. Merely cast an eye to the north of our borders to see the consequences of what happens when universities are simply subject to the dictates of the state. Presently, few of our universities north of South Africa can be said to offer outstanding higher education. This is no fault of their academics. It is a consequence of universities becoming solely responsible to the state, and when political leaders are given the power to intervene within autonomous public institutions without any checks or balances.
Perhaps our Minister should reflect on the damaging and ideologically driven corporatisation of universities under Margaret Thatcher, and remember Karl Marx’s memorable phrase: history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

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