Council Report, 2 September 2009

28 September 2009

In the period up to 2004, Council operated without an Executive Committee (Exco), meeting in plenary session 11 times annually. In 2004 Council decided to establish an Exco, but did not delegate decision-making powers to it.

After a year into its four-year term, the new Council has reviewed its modus operandi and has decided, in principle, to move to quarterly, full-day board-type meetings, giving Exco as-yet-unspecified decision-making powers and at the same time giving the Executive greater delegated powers.

A Council committee has been appointed to flesh this out. It is likely to have significant knock-on effects on the cycles of committee business, and on making some key committees more important and allowing Council to give more attention to strategy, and on holding the executive officers (the VC and the DVCs) and senior managers accountable.

The Audit Committee reports to Council after each of its meetings. Its report in September dealt with internal audit matters, planning for the 2009 audit, and the need to address concerns that the independent auditors have about controls on UCT's ICT environment.

The Vice-Chancellor reports to each Council meeting. Highlights of his report in September were: reflections on his recent meeting with the new Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, and his advisors; and his announcement of the appointment of John Samuel as a part-time, short-term special assistant to review UCT's activities related to schools.

The Institutional Forum (IF) is one of the statutory organs, the others being Council, Senate, the SRC and the Student Affairs Committee (USAC). The IF has specific roles, provided for in the Higher Education Act and in UCT's Institutional Statute; these roles essentially require it to advise the Council.

For several years the IF has felt that it was being less than effective; in part, because of a communication gap between it and Council. The IF made some proposals that would have given it access rights to Council meetings. Council recognised recently that communication between the IF and Council needs attention, and, in addition to agreeing to the role that the DVC (who is both a Council member and one of the IF co-chairs) is expected to play in this regard, has endorsed the role of a lay Council member, who is one of the Council appointees on the IF.

Ms V Doo has agreed to play the part of an interlocutor between the IF and Council. However, Council did not accept the new IF proposals; but it has confirmed its willingness to assist the IF in undertaking its functions, to receive IF advice and submissions and not merely responses and reactive reports, and to consider requests (to be made via the Chair of the Council) from the IF. It also agreed to allow the IF to address Council on particular matters in particular circumstances.

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