UCT's Council has identified employment equity as one of the most pressing issues confronting the university and is poised to approve a new policy to accelerate the process.
This follows a recent Council meeting that took the historic step of devoting its entire proceedings to the topic of transformation. The meeting took the form of a workshop focusing on three key areas, namely employment equity, student enrolments and the organisational climate.
Chair Tony Farr said this step was an indication of how seriously Council was taking the issue of transformation.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Njabulo Ndebele said a new employment equity policy and clear action aimed at changing and improving the institutional climate would help UCT to move closer to its mission statement. He called for a "bold leap forward to make the University of Cape Town a truly South African university that is home to all its members".
"This is the first time this has happened," said deputy vice-chancellor Prof Cheryl de la Rey.
She welcomed the fact that the Council had considered transformation an important enough issue to devote an entire meeting to the topic.
"Council changed the format of this meeting because it wanted to have an in-depth discussion on each of the key areas identified in the action guide on transformation," she said.
Among the areas of concern identified during the deliberations was the need for a revised policy to achieve employment equity. This policy is expected to be finalised at the next Council meeting this week.
This new policy will see the setting up of employment equity forums through the faculties and professional departments on campus to monitor progress.
It will also ensure that employment equity is a key performance area for all line managers and will require the setting of targets that each faculty and PASS department will strive to reach during each year of the plan.
The university Council will approve a plan annually to achieve employment equity and it will also receive regular reports to facilitate effective monitoring.
Council also debated the link between employment equity and the need to change the institutional climate. How this is to be done will be informed by the outcomes of the consultative process.
On the topic of student enrolment, Council discussions focused on how to accelerate the widening of access to the university to change the student profile in line with the broad demographics of the country, as well as the improvement of throughput.
In addition, Council debated the idea that the transformation process should be underpinned by a "transformation budget" similar to the "women's budget" adopted by national government. By tracking the amount of money devoted to transformation at UCT, the idea is that this will facilitate reporting on progress with regard to the university's commitment to transformation, and also help to improve transparency and accountability.
In addition, it will allow for better decision-making on how policies and priorities should be revised to achieve equity goals, and ensure that budgets are allocated in a way that addresses the most pressing equity needs.
"The flow of resources must reflect our strategic commitment to transformation to maximise success,"said the VC. "And our planning for 2005 will ensure that it does."
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