Progress on improvement plan

23 April 2007

Are you aware that the university launched UNIQUIP last year?

No? What is UNIQUIP, you ask? It's an acronym for the University's Quality Improvement Plan, submitted to the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) in December last year.

You will remember that in 2005 UCT was the first public university to be audited by the HEQC. After receiving the final report, Senate constituted a steering committee to oversee both the implementation of the recommendations in this report and the development of the University's Quality Improvement Plan, based on eight strategic objectives.

Meeting these objectives has budgetary implications. The university operates within a multi-year plan and budget, annually reviewing its objectives and allocating resources to support approved strategic initiatives.

At the end of March each year, progress on the University's Quality Improvement Plan will be reviewed and an assessment made of the resource implications of planned activities for the following year. Accordingly, the timelines are for March 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The end of March 2007 saw the first high-level assessment of UNIQUIP. As the plan was approved only very recently, few targets were set for 2007. Nonetheless, several milestones were reached.

Five Khuluma workshops were held; isiXhosa courses were held for Centre for Higher Education Development staff; structures were set up to strengthen transformation initiatives; the revised residence admissions policy was implemented; executive-performance contracts were aligned with institutional objectives; and guidelines for reviewing PASS departments were piloted during 2006.

There are several areas where targets were set but not achieved, or where inadequate information was provided to make an assessment. For example, statistics are not yet available to assess if 2007 targets for returnees and postgraduate enrolments have been met.

But there's good news in other areas. On the postgraduate front, a marketing and recruitment drive was implemented and a postgraduate education workshop was held. Discussions are underway to include the Postgraduate Students Association in the student governance structure, and research has started into the quantitative literacy demands and needs of these senior students in several disciplines.

On the transformation front, the development of a race discrimination and sexual harassment policy is well advanced. The plan to roll out the new university logo is ready. The university has launched a campaign on respect and human rights.

Beyond UCT, we are broadening the base of feeder schools.

Regarding improvements to the quality of graduates and the graduating class, tutor training interventions have been launched in the commerce, engineering and the built environment and humanities faculties. Work has started on ensuring equitable workloads among academic staff and a policy on fixed-term contract staff is nearing finalisation.

In conclusion, deputy vice-chancellor Professor Martin Hall said: "The University Quality Improvement Plan is our own analysis of how we should strive for continual improvement - it is much more than a compliance exercise for the Higher Education Quality Committee. If we can achieve what we have set out to do, we will be better at all our core functions as a university."

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