Chief Operating Officer’s report

30 October 2023 Read time 6 min.
Dr Reno Morar, chief operating officer <b>Photo</b> Je’nine May.
Dr Reno Morar, chief operating officer Photo Je’nine May.

Human Resources department

The Human Resources (HR) department finalised the implementation phase of the SAP SuccessFactors e-Recruitment module in 2022 , with a pilot of the module commencing in December. It was set to become mandatory for 50% of selection committee members to complete the Fundamentals of Employment Equity training from January 2023. 

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) provided a R4.5 million grant for the provision of a six-month graduate internship programme. The programme is facilitated by the Staff Learning Centre and was due to commence in early 2023. Access to the Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP), Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) discretionary grant awards continues to provide accredited development opportunities for staff. The Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) launched an executive development programme that was well supported by the executive.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) hosted the National Higher Education Employee Relations Forum on 25 and 26 August 2022. This provided an opportunity for the universities’ community of practice to engage on a number of important human resource policy and management areas relevant to the South African landscape.

HR, in consultation with UCT’s major stakeholders, developed the UCT Health and Wellbeing Strategy with a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework approved for implementation with effect from March 2023.  Counselling services through the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) continue to be offered with an increased uptake of the offering, and with onsite psychologists available at various campuses.

A new primary healthcare provider for pay classes two to six was appointed in 2022. A refurbished clinic managed by Discovery Flexicare has been operating since 27 February 2023, and a doctor and nurse service is available.

UCT’s Retirement Fund (UCTRF) won a bronze award in the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (IRFA) Lwela Ukwenza Kahle Awards programme for 2022.


UCT continued to grow its activity towards becoming a more environmentally sustainable campus, as part of Vision 2030. This involved the continued implementation of the Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which ultimately aims to guide the university towards becoming a net-zero carbon, water and waste-to-landfill campus by, or before, 2050.

UCT published its latest carbon footprint report in 2022 (for the years 2020 and 2021). This is a combined report for the two years which were both severely affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. The lockdown period allowed the university to test and implement some alternative methods of working, some of which will remain in use for many years and will see UCT reducing its emissions as a result.

The implementation of the university’s Department of Higher Education and Training-funded Sustainable Water Management Strategy continued in 2022. The plan resulted in eleven student residences having undergone water-saving retrofits, including the installation of low-flow toilet flush systems, low-flow showerheads and low-flow wash hand basin taps/piping. These initiatives will see the university saving thousands of litres of potable water every year.

UCT continued to deliver more environmentally sustainable buildings through its construction of green buildings using the Green Star standard. The Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking Afrika (d-school) construction was completed in 2022, which received a 6 Star rating from the Green Building Council South Africa, incorporating multiple amazing green building features. Several other new green buildings are in the planning stage, including the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance and the Digital and Polar laboratory projects. Both these buildings aim to be net-zero carbon buildings, pushing the boundaries of green building design on campus. A third building – the Arise Building – is also in planning stage, targeting a 4 Star Green Star rating.

In 2022, the Khusela Ikamva Sustainable Campus project entered its second year of existence and saw the establishment of a few living labs on campus, including the installation of two solar photovoltaic installations, one of which includes an electric car charging station near the north bus stop on upper campus. These living labs are all aimed at increasing awareness of environmental sustainability issues among students and staff and are the subject of current and future research projects for students on campus.

UCT celebrated the 15-year anniversary of the student Green Campus Initiative (GCI) at the d-school. The event was attended by students and staff, acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of the GCI over the years. 

Department of Properties and Services (P&S)

P&S Workplace Service Portal live

August 2022 marked the launch of the P&S Workplace Services portal powered by the Archibus platform (currently being rolled out). The portal is P&S’ new and easily accessible central point of the bouquet of property-related services on offer, ranging from logging maintenance calls to venue bookings to project requests, to name but a few. The system allows staff to see a wealth of real-time information on the progress of their logged tickets.

UCT subsurface scanning of upper, middle and lower campus

P&S has completed its momentous 3D sub-surface utility scanning project. The campus’ underground utility networks were located and mapped using various instruments such as electro-magnetic induction and ground-penetrating radar. The information has been consolidated to create a digital twin of the utility networks beneath the UCT campus in 2D and 3D. This will allow for digitised viewing of the services by contractors when performing maintenance or commencing new projects; and in the process will reduce accidental damage, which is a common occurrence. The project scanned a total of 58 700 sqm over 511 km of services including 132 188 points of articulation and 3 889 service delivery / man holes.

Integrated Development Framework (IDF)

The IDF land-use application and the conservation studies were advertised concurrently in the press, online and on-site for 60 days from 24 June to 23 August 2022. An appointed service provider submitted a response to comments received on 5 December 2022 and a final IDF report was submitted to the City of Cape Town on 1 February 2023. The Conservation Framework and Heritage Inventory document will be submitted to Heritage Western Cape and tabled at their Inventories, Grading Interpretation Committee in May 2023 for approval.

Capital building projects

The Chris Hani Redevelopment Project was completed in mid-February 2022. 

The new Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) Infill Building was completed. DHET funded UCT’s master plan for seven new buildings and developments, which are currently under way and in various stages of completion. Two of these buildings are located at the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) and one at the IDM – the IDM Extension Project. The project was completed on 10 March 2022.

UCT fire and related ongoing projects

Reimagining the new Jagger Library as a research library with a focus on African history, identity, and creative expression

A series of imaginariums commenced the process of stakeholder consultations in 2022. Further surveys and consultations will be undertaken over the course of the year by colleagues at UCT Libraries. The collated ideas and suggestions will inform the final design brief for the new Jagger Library. 


UCT’s ICTS strategy

The ICT Strategy Working Group (SWG) developed and presented the UCT ICT Strategy to Council on 15 October 2022. This was in response to Council’s observation that UCT needed an institutional ICT Strategy that supports Vision 2030. The strategy aims to transition ICT from a technology-centric focus to a human-centric focus, in alignment with UCT's Vision 2030. The team consulted broadly with colleagues to form a solid foundation for the strategy and project-prioritisation processes. The review of current and planned projects shows that they are aligned with the strategic initiatives, however, funding availability poses a risk to execution.

ICTS projects

In 2022, the ICTS Project Register included between 97 and 115 projects, including multi-year CAPEX-funded projects. Roughly half of these, are smaller, “managed work” items which are run as “mini projects” and the rest are formal projects. Thirty-one projects were completed, and 86 managed work items. 

Key projects for 2022:

  1. The Network Renewal Project, which commenced in 2018, was successfully concluded, thereby renewing UCT's entire networking infrastructure across campus.
  2. Network Access Control (NAC) segmentation on the access layer is ready to be rolled out to campus. ICTS is in the final stages of testing segregation within the data centre.
  3. The Upper Campus Data Centre is undergoing refurbishment by P&S.
  4. Storage infrastructure is being renewed. Procurement has been done and the commissioning of the equipment is currently under way.
  5. Telephonic services for staff are being migrated from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, with almost all the work now completed. The final stage (currently under way) is to migrate contact centres and classroom phones.
  6. ICTS’ three hybrid meeting rooms were launched to campus, opening up the option of future meeting spaces that can accommodate remote and in-person attendees simultaneously.
  7. ICTS introduced a streaming service that allows departments to broadcast Teams live events to their social media channels.
  8. ICTS procured, configured and distributed 1 477 laptops to first-year NSFAS students during the First Year Campus Reception. Students attended a presentation where they were introduced to various services offered by ICTS.
  9. Audio-visual and IT equipment was fitted into various meeting rooms and classrooms. Classroom data projector upgrades commenced.  

Empowering custodial staff

In July 2022, the ICTS training team embarked on a digital literacy programme to upskill staff in P&S' Estates and Custodial Services Division. The programme received over 100 sign-ups and involved weekly in-person classes which taught participants to use a computer confidently and assisted them with accessing important online systems such as email and employee self-service. A second phase is in development stage. It will focus on Microsoft Teams, Excel, Word, and Outlook, as well as LinkedIn Learning.

The ICTS training team ran 59 online training sessions, attended by 826 UCT staff members. The most popular were Drupal, Anywhere 365 (call centre technology), Office 365 and Dynamics 365. They also conducted 85 one-on-one consultations.

Helpdesk and classroom support

A new Student IT Helpdesk was opened in the heart of the UCT Library, as a pilot to improve services to students.

Information and cyber security

A key component in the UCT strategy has been the implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA) for numerous core systems, including Microsoft 365, ServiceNow, and the UCT virtual private network. MFA will be rolled out to other core systems in due course. MFA and other email-related security measures have helped to combat the scourge of weak passwords, phishing attempts and other vectors of attack.

UCT will be implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) as a multi-year initiative.

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