03 March 2008

In his/her letter to the Monday Paper (18 February) Aggrieved Goose claims that "there is no incentive (for individuals at UCT) for (writing) high-level publications". In her reply the Dean of Science argues instead that: "The value placed by the university on these outputs is evident in our ad hominem promotion process, including excellence level payments". This statement is relevant to the complaint by Aggrieved Goose and the ensuing debate, but otherwise may be quite misleading.

Ad hominem promotions and academic excellence are judged by a considerable number of criteria at UCT. These include teaching, learning, leadership, management, administration, social responsiveness and research. Research is therefore only a small component of the total number of criteria. Even if Aggrieved Goose does outstanding research, but does not reach the same level of excellence in the category, say, of social responsiveness, the rigid numeric formula being used may well block any access to an ad hominem promotion or academic excellence notch to which he or she might aspire.

In theory then, an academic at UCT who wins the Nobel Prize for their research, but does not reach a high numeric score in the category of management and administration, would not be judged as being meritorious by UCT. Personally I fail to see how this policy fits the claim that we are a "research-driven" university.

Professor Johann Lutjeharms
Department of Oceanography

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