Notes from Council

08 December 2007

Council Exco met on 7 November. Here are some notes from that meeting.

The University Council (which has a membership of 30) is supported by a standing executive committee of seven council members. Exco has a new member, Thando Mhlambiso, who replaces Rhoda Kadalie, who has resigned from the Council but remains deputy chair of the Baxter Board and Exco. Council has not met during November, but Exco has, and has dealt with a range of matters on which it has made recommendations for Council to consider in December 2007.

Process review
Exco has initiated a review of the process used to select a vice-chancellor, while the recent experiences are fresh in the participants' memories. Two senior members of Council have been asked to do this after interviewing the candidates, the members of the selection committee, and the vice-chancellor, among others.

Planning Council's Work
Council meets seven times annually, and Exco meets in the months that Council does not. Exco has reviewed this pattern and has proposed changes for 2008. In parallel, Exco has arranged for the annual performance self-review Council members undertake of their work, the performance of the Council chair and deputy chair, and of the university executive.

Partnership with the Provincial Government in the Faculty of Health Sciences
Exco spent much of this meeting reviewing the impact of the Western Cape's health budget cuts to the central hospitals (impacting, critically, UCT's major teaching hospitals, Groote Schuur and Red Cross) on both tertiary and quaternary health services and teaching, especially at the postgraduate level. The budget cuts to Groote Schuur were implemented on 1 October 2007. The national mini-budget proposed to Parliament by Minister Trevor Manual provided for additional funding to health services, though this was not expected to bring relief to the central hospitals. Exco noted reports in the study being undertaken by the Department of Education of the subsidy for students in health sciences, and by national Treasury on the conditional grants (the National Tertiary Services Grants and the Health Professions Training and Development Grant) which go to provinces for tertiary health services, and for the costs provinces incur in hospitals because of the training of medical students.

The partnership between the University and the Province in running the central hospitals and the training of health science students dates back to the 1920s, and is invaluable to both. The agreement regulating this - in particular the regulation the joint staff - dates from 1966 and both parties believe it needs to be replaced. Exco received a report on key issues being debated between the Province and the four Western Cape universities towards a new joint agreement.

Operational and formal matters
Exco, by its nature, devotes attention to a range of operational and formal matters. Among those tabled at the Exco meeting were:

  • a report on the conclusion of the contract negotiations with Sechaba Africa for catering services in residences in 2008;
  • a report on fee payments. For 2007, UCT has billed students R447 million for tuition and R140 million for residence fees, and of this, over 90% had been paid by the end of September 2007;
  • a report on progress in meeting the 2007–2010 Employment Equity Plan showing where targets have and have not been met;
  • a report on the negotiations with taxi associations which aim to secure an agreement whereby taxi operators will augment the Jammie Shuttle campus access transport systems; and
  • a review of the University's cash flow position, where cash flow is as predicted, with an additional R30 million being the first tranche of State funding for capital projects.

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