Strategic integration of transformation

04 November 2022

Within the institution, how well is transformation mainstreamed in basic strategic actions?

Strategic Integration of Transformation
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What is being tested?

Integration Systematic analysis A.1 The faculty/department systematically analyses transformation, inclusivity and diversity, and incorporates findings into annual planning, monitoring and evaluation.
Integration Knowledge products A.2 The main knowledge product of the faculty/department (annual report, special edition of journal or other) explicitly addresses issues related to transformation, inclusivity and diversity.
Integration Communication and access to information A.3 Key messages/communications on transformation, inclusivity and diversity are disseminated to faculty/department stakeholders.
Integration Budget allocation for previous period A.4 Percentage of the annual budget spent on transformation, inclusivity or diversity programming in the preceding 12 months.
Integration Budget allocation for future period A.5 Percentage of annual budget allocated to transformation, inclusivity or diversity programming in the forthcoming 12 months.
Integration Participation in TC A.6 At least three staff members participate in the TC, there are agreed-upon terms of reference and at least 10% of time is allocated to transformation committee functions.

What does the benchmark reveal?

In order for transformation work to be effective and to have a meaningful impact, transformation agents in faculties and non-academic departments need to have the resources, time and opportunity to conduct their work; should inform the strategic and budgetary planning, communication and evaluation of their entity; and entities should have functioning transformation committee structures.

While no faculty or non-academic department met all the criteria of this benchmark, the Faculty of Health Sciences, Research Office and Faculty of Science came close. In these three entities, transformation was prioritised through the appointment of a transformation officer in the Faculty of Health Sciences, the creation of working groups to respond to the Inclusivity Survey findings in the Research Office, and the hosting of a faculty assembly on transformation in the Faculty of Science.

In other entities, the low score can be interpreted as limited support or encouragement for transformation work at the level of faculties and non-academic departments, and in some cases, institutional barriers to transformation work. Leaders of faculties and non-academic departments need to better understand the role of transformation agents and should be held accountable if they hinder or thwart transformation efforts.

Integration Almost all departments and faculties report meeting benchmark criteria A.1 and A.2 This means that departments and faculties consistently analyse transformation (often using the inclusivity survey results as an inroad to engagement) and incorporated TDI into knowledge products and strategic plans.
Integration Few departments and faculties met benchmark criteria A.4 and A.5. In line with the previous two years, few departments and faculties spent resources on transformation or budgeted for transformation in 2021. The budgetary constraints related to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns also played a role in how resources were allocated.

Which actions contributed to this benchmark?

Departments and faculties implemented a range of actions to ensure the strategic integration of TDI. For example, entities: (1) strengthened their transformation capacities through hiring or identifying a specific transformation officer, expert or specialist (Faculty of Health Sciences); (2) strengthened transformation governance structures through implementing TDI-specific strategic plans (Research Office; faculties of Law and Science); (3) hosted or facilitated entity-wide engagements on race, gender and sexuality (among other themes); or (4) communicated with entity stakeholders about TDI. Entities also used the inclusivity survey results as a springboard for hosting strategic discussions on transformation in their department.

A small number of faculties and departments collected biannual reports from their sub-departments to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of TDI, raised or disbursed funds for transformation-specific work, or hosted campaigns on issues related to xenophobia or racism, among others.

Other than the above, faculties (specifically Science, Law and Health Sciences) also developed publications and academic engagements on race and decolonialism, among other social themes.

Who contributed to this benchmark?

Eight faculties and five non-academic departments contributed to this benchmark.


Transformation can only be strategic and effective if programmes, projects and interventions are well resourced. Without resources, time and expertise (in the form of TDI specialists), interventions will continue to be events-based, seen as optional/unimportant, and will have limited strategic impact.

An example of a good practice

The Faculty of Health Sciences has prioritised hiring TDI experts to assist them to formulate, implement and expand on transformation. In 2021, the faculty hired a transformation officer who was placed in the deanery and provided both strategic and operational support to ensure the faculty’s transformation goals were achieved. In addition, the faculty created a post for a gender diversity specialist (to be recruited in 2022). This role will assist the university to strengthen its capacities in relation to teaching, learning and research on sexual and gender diversity, and more broadly to create an affirming environment for LGBTQI+ persons and capable future healthcare professionals. Both roles link centrally in order to align the FHS with the university transformation and inclusion goals.

The Strategic Integration of Transformation benchmark aligns with international best practice and national guidelines for TDI. The benchmark offers actionable measures of processes that can help departments and faculties assess the steps they take to integrate transformation at a strategic and systemic level.

While the departments and faculties listed above have made some contributions to this benchmark, it’s important to reflect on the impact of these actions. For example, while steps have been taken to better analyse and develop knowledge products on transformation, one would need to ask how these analyses and knowledge products were received. How effective were they in contributing to social or behavioural change?

Warning Signs

Warning signs

In the first three years of capturing data on the benchmarks, entities consistently met between 55–60% of the Strategic Integration benchmark requirements. This indicates that at a faculty and departmental level, transformation agents do not see meaningful or consistent support for TDI, or the prioritisation of TDI.



While the above challenges are present, there are several hopeful sparks of change. For example, in the Faculty of Health Sciences specialists on TDI have been (and will continue to be) recruited; in the Research Office several high-level working groups have been constituted to respond to TDI issues, and in the FHS an impactful meeting was convened that sought to bring together stakeholders to engage on TDI


Transformative awakening

Even under the uncertain circumstances of 2021, the emergence of the Social, Ethics and Transformation Committee of the UCT Council offers an opportunity for the strengthening of TDI initiatives at an institutional level. The terms of reference are under review at Council, following which the committee will start working.


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