At the end of its weeklong visit in May, the panel appointed by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) to conduct an institutional audit of UCT made a preliminary oral report to the university's executive. Last week, Professor Martin Hall gave some feedback on that report to UCT staff at an open meeting.
In its self-review process in the run-up to the HEQC visit, Hall pointed out UCT had identified a number of areas where it could improve and which it had started to tackle - on its own terms - prior to the audit. These centred broadly around staff and student equity, research, teaching and learning, responsiveness (to a host of issues) and management systems. In its initial report, the panel had picked up on the series of already-running strategies that the university had introduced.
The panel had commended UCT for, among other things, its many A-rated researchers (expected if you boast to being a research-led university), its high number of black students in science and engineering, its Emerging Researchers Programme, and its strong undergraduate examination system. But there was still some work to be done in other areas, notably around transformation and its staff-equity profile, which the panel felt UCT should speed up, said Hall.
In summing up, the panel had described UCT as a well-resourced and well-oiled institution that justifiably attracts students because of its international standing. In another pat on the back, they referred to UCT as a valuable part of the higher education system in the country.
In coming up with a plan of action for the future, UCT now has two options, Hall pointed out. This would be to either sit back and wait for the HEQC's final report - due sometime in October - before deciding what to do next, or to take the initiative and push ahead with improvements.
"We as the executive have a considered view that we must take the latter course," Hall said.
And with a mandate from Senate and discussions with staff, the university plans to do exactly that, he concluded.
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