UCT may have had to squeeze a day-long programme into half a day, but Dr Bonginkosi 'Blade' Nzimande, minister of Higher Education and Training, and his ministerial delegation could not say they were short-changed when they visited the campus on 17 August. As Mary Metcalfe, director-general of the ministry, pointed out, the delegation received a full if whirlwind tour of life and issues at UCT.
The elbow-to-elbow sessions started with an overview by the vice-chancellor, Dr Max Price, and an executive commission of deputy vice-chancellors and deans. Over the rest of the five-hour stopover, Nzimande was brought up to date with UCT's academic development programme, met with student and staff representatives, learned about developments in research and research support, and was run through some of the university's social responsiveness initiatives.
As it was a fact-finding mission, the minister and his delegation had a few choice questions, notably concerning UCT's admissions policy (how absolute is that points system?) and what role the university can play in higher-education development. So, for example, he wondered if the University Science, Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa (aka USHEPiA) programme could be rolled out to South African universities, and what input UCT could make into Further Education and Training colleges. "How do we get the experts and the expertise here to support the rest of the [higher education] system?" Nzimande asked.
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