Council Notes

27 April 2009

Council's Exco and the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) both met in the first week of April; both meetings were long, each lasting for four hours.

The Exco meeting was dominated by finance and property matters: the management accounts for 2008 that showed a small surplus against a budgeted small deficit; an additional capital appropriation for new accommodation for the School of Economics and ICT Services (most of both will move off the upper campus) and student services (which will free up space for academic use in the Kramer building when these services move to the new building); and the capital contributions of up to R200 million that the state proposes to make available to UCT in 2010-2012, if UCT can find the balance of R235 million needed to meet the notional costs of the proposed projects and the additional capital that would be required for their actual costs. A key debate in Exco was about details of the proposed new Williams Street student housing project that is to house 800 or more students, and which Exco hopes can be ready for 2011.

Exco debated and considered proposals for the way in which the elections for a Chancellor will be held and when. Chancellor Graca Machel's first 10-year term will expire at the end of 2009, and the Registrar will soon issue a call for nominations for the office. The Chancellor has indicated that she is willing to stand for election for a further term. If there are other nominations, elections will take place to constitute an Electoral College as required by the Statute, and the Electoral College will, in turn, elect the Chancellor.

Exco reviewed interim reports on the code of conduct for contractors who supply services that UCT has outsourced, and emphasised that the provisions of this code, which aim to ensure that contractors treat their employees fairly and pay them not less than a basic wage, apply to a contractor's contract staff as well as the contractor's permanent staff. In a related debate, Exco noted that progress had been made in converting T3 (longer-term fixed-term) contract staff to permanent staff conditions, but that the policy framework for this had yet to be completed; and Exco has asked for this to happen.

Dates for the June and December graduation ceremonies have been set, and the introduction of four new qualifications (Diploma in Fine Art, Postgraduate Diploma in Psychotherapy, Postgraduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management, and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Mental Health) has been supported. Several key questions have been held over for consideration by full Council in May: these include the proposal about links with China which, if approved, would pave the way for proposals for the establishment of a Chinese Hanban- Institute-funded Confucius Institute at UCT.

The University Building and Development Committee reported to Exco on: the completion of the Menzies levels 6 and 7 project (an R11-million project to provide additional space for engineering); the building alterations and renovations to be made to Glenara, the Vice-Chancellor's official residence; and the Kopano oval artificial-surface soccer field, due to be ready for use in mid-April 2009.

Senate's Executive Committee (SEC) had a lengthy agenda. Among the more important matters before it were:

  • a report by the task team reviewing the RFJ (rate for the job) remuneration structure for academic staff, which the SEC debated and accepted as the basis for the next stages of the task team's work and for consultation;
  • a report by the Examinations and Assessment Committee drawing attention to the need to give more attention to standards of invigilation at formal examinations;
  • draft guidelines for part-dissertations for master's degrees, which the SEC supported and which will be put to Senate for approval; and
  • improvement plans and progress reports arising from four departmental reviews conducted as part of the quality assurance programme.

The Executive Director: Properties and Services, John Critien, made a presentation to the SEC on health and safety, with an emphasis on the role of people who are appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to ensure a safe environment for staff and students, and answered questions by members of the SEC.

The SEC interviewed the Chair of Senate's Ethics in Research Committee (which deals with ethical questions and policies relating to people who are the subject of research, and acts in parallel with the Senate Animal Ethics Committee) on his committee's annual report for 2008, and how it has worked to ensure ethical standards in research and to protect human subjects in social and scientific research.

Provided by the Registrar,
Hugh Amoore

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