The Changing Face of UCT

27 October 2003

Close to 3 700 staff members are being asked to help gauge how UCT is doing in its efforts to transform itself into a more representative and diverse community while simultaneously retaining its competitive edge.

To this end, everyone on the payroll, including academic, administrative, professional and support staff, is being asked to complete a questionnaire which will act as an Organisational Climate Survey on the working environment of the university.

The "climate" in the survey refers to how an organisation goes about its daily business, including its structures, policies and procedures. The climate is also viewed as an expression of the beliefs and values of an organisation.

The survey, commissioned by Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor whose portfolio includes institutional transformation, is one of several steps being undertaken this year to accelerate the transformation of UCT.

In a presentation to the Institutional Forum, a body representing staff, students and management, she described the survey as a tool that would help UCT identify the most pressing areas of concern for staff.

This information would assist in the planning of effective interventions and assist the University in assessing change over time.

She also pointed out that this was the first time that all staff were being surveyed. Past efforts have been limited to specific staff sectors.

Professor Johann Louw, who drafted the questionnaire with Associate Professor Gillian Finchilescu, both of the Department of Psychology, said the survey was confidential, and names were not required. Louw's message to staff was to "please take it seriously and return it".

"Transformation affects us all," he added.

His view is borne out by Vice-Chancellor Professor Njabulo Ndebele's covering letter in which he points out that one of the challenges UCT has been grappling with has been transforming its staff profile, particularly among academics.

He said UCT needed to deepen an understanding of how people interacted with each other, how they were motivated and encouraged and how much attention was given to their development.

Once completed, the preliminary results of the survey will be presented to De la Rey in December to be taken to the Institutional Forum for discussion and comment.

Next year, this quantitative investigation will be followed up with a qualitative research initiative to flesh out the findings.

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