OPINION | Answering the critics

This response to my critical review of UNISA published in The Times and Daily Dispatch is both a political and personal attack on the author.

When individuals or groups resort to such angry, ad hominem attacks on an individual, they are normally bereft of ideas.

That such inflammatory language comes from a university makes one wonder whether these colleagues even know what a university is for. A university, I should remind, is a place where people engage in debate, exchange ideas and differ intensely — after which they have a beer together.

That this seldom happens in South Africa is a comment on the state of higher education not on the purposes of the university.

The toxic language of this attack does not allow for such engagement with the result that the university becomes like the parliament and the campus like a street brawl.

I would have loved critical engagement with my column, an assessment of where I got the facts wrong or how the arguments are flawed. Instead, I am left to read a combination of personal insults, dozens of lies and simple spite.

I will not even begin to list the tremendous strides made by students and staff at the UFS during my tenure there both in relation to the new academic profile and prestige of the institution and the hard battles won.

I will not even begin to list the tremendous strides made by students and staff at the UFS during my tenure there both in relation to the new academic profile and prestige of the institution and the hard battles won, under trying conditions, when it came to the deeper transformation of the three campuses. But to do so would simply be responding to lies and misrepresentations that would sidetrack from and have nothing to do with my critical analysis of UNISA.

As a former Vice-Chancellor of UNISA told me after reading the published article: “they might differ with you on some of your proposals, such as a smaller university, but they cannot challenge you on the facts.”  ­

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