Dear members of the campus community
The third meeting of the University of Cape Town (UCT) Council for this year took place on Saturday, 12 October 2019. I write to provide feedback on some of the key items discussed at the meeting.
New Council members
Council announced the appointment of two new members. In the category of Senate representatives on Council, Professor Ntobeko Ntusi replaced Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, who retired at the end of March this year. The City of Cape Town has appointed Councillor Dave Bryant as a replacement for Councillor Mark Kleinschmidt. We welcome the new members and also express our sincere gratitude to both our former colleagues.
Reports by the executive
Council is pleased to note that UCT continues to achieve significant successes in international rankings and ratings. The institution has moved up 20 places in the 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and placed 91st in the 2020 Quacquarelli Symonds Graduate Employability Rankings. Council also applauded the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) award of seven out of 21 A-ratings to UCT researchers.
At the same time, and with much sadness, Council reflected on the untimely and tragic death of our student Uyinene Mrwetyana, whose passing reignited public outrage against gender-based violence. Council commended the leadership of the country and the unity that the university community demonstrated in its response to this tragedy, and adds its voice to raising concerns about this scourge. Council supports the university management in its efforts to respond to gender-based violence and the issue of safety on and around our campuses.
Council noted the establishment of an ad hoc disciplinary tribunal to expedite the processing of sexual offences cases, and the establishment of a cross-institutional gender-based violence working group. This group has identified four streams of work, each of which has a specific focus: dialogues on masculinity, dialogues on restorative justice, campus safety, and community engagement. The activities of these four streams will be capacitated and resourced over the coming months.
Council considered reports from the university management about safety and security interventions already initiated. These include collaboration with the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District, which has seen 36 additional officers being deployed to monitor the perimeter of UCT. Various processes and procedures have been reviewed to further mitigate factors that impact safety and security. These include security audits of the student residences, changes to extend the evening Jammie Shuttle routes, increased shuttles in the evening during exam and test periods, and Campus Protection Services officers stationed at the Jammie Shuttle bus stops.
Revision of the UCT Institutional Statute
Council, noting the feedback from the UCT community and the Institutional Forum with regard to proposed changes to the Institutional Statute, resolved to submit proposals for amendments to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology. Most significantly, these will have an impact on the composition of Council, but remain within the legislative requirements of a council that does not exceed 30 members and where 60% of the members are neither staff nor students.
Council regularly considers reports related to management accounts, financial sustainability and the inherent risks related to achieving the university’s strategic goals. Council supports the university’s continuing future focus, the review of many aspects of its operations, and a strategic direction that takes into account a financial outlook for a challenging future.
Council confirmed the appointment of service providers for the network storage architecture renewal project, which will replace and expand current data storage capability, managed by Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS). The project will provide increased capacity, enhanced security, and improved backup and recovery capability. Council also approved the appointment of suppliers for the provision of desktop computing and peripheral equipment procured through ICTS.
Council adopted the 2018 Research Report, as recommended by Senate. Council engaged with this report and records its appreciation of the excellent work undertaken and successes achieved in this important area of the university’s core business.
The highlights of the report include UCT being rated first in Africa in all five major university rankings, the university having 515 NRF-rated researchers (13% of the national cohort), 36 A-rated researchers (30% of the national cohort) and 40 South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chairs (17% of the national cohort). I urge members of the university community to peruse this report once it is shared publicly next month.
Council approved the schedule of graduation ceremonies for March 2020, the post-retirement medical aid subsidy for 2020, and the revised terms of reference and composition for the University Information Communication and Technology Committee. It further noted the report of the Works of Art Committee, which includes the re-curation and de-accessioning of artwork, and its policy for the management of the university’s collection of artworks.
Council engaged with the UCT management team to discuss key issues in the development of a strategic plan for UCT in terms of its vision for 2030. This is a critical undertaking as UCT works to establish a sustainable base and remain relevant in the future. Council will continue to participate in this process, as led by the vice-chancellor and her leadership team. Various UCT constituencies will be consulted in the process, which will culminate in the adoption of the Vision 2030 document during the first part of next year.
As the university winds down to the end of 2019, Council wishes all UCT students well for the year-end exams.
Sipho M Pityana
Chair of UCT Council
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