The Second Higher Education Transformation Summit: Durban’s ICC
Day One: 15th October 2015
Durban: an unseasonably grey and chilly spring day.
Higher education ‘stakeholders’ from all over the country have woken up at ungodly hours to make it to the International Convention Centre on time for the 9am start for the second ever Transformation in Higher Education in South Africa conference. For Wits staff and students wondering where their VC was, at a time of major turmoil on campus over fee increases, we can confirm that he was indeed spotted at the ICC, in the flesh, often on the phone. (More about how the Wits protests entered the day’s conversation, later).
VCs, Council members, Senators, students’ representatives and others from across South Africa had gathered to convene with government Higher Education representatives. The topic: transformation. Before the opening plenary began – fashionably late of course – small groups of powerful university men huddled between the rows of conference desks set up in – what else? – schoolroom style rows, to swap stories. (Later on, you’ll see those same ‘big men’ comically huddled over impossibly small cocktail plates at the canapé luncheon.) Continue reading “ASAWU Report on The Second Higher Education Transformation Summit: Day 1 15th October 2015”
It has come to our attention that some Schools are seeking to implement performance management systems for their academic staff. As we have communicated in the past, in the absence of a mutually agreed to system, academic staff may reserve the right not to participate in any efforts adopted to develop performance metrics around publications, teaching and service beyond those that already exist in staffing and promotions policies. Further, should members of academic staff feel bullied or prejudiced as a result of non-participation in a proposed performance management system than a formal complaint can be laid against those responsible for perpetrating the bullying or engaging in prejudicial behaviour. Continue reading “Performance Management”
At the 2014 AGM the Executive received a mandate from the membership to explore the design and establishment of a bursary to support students in need. As the events of early 2015 reinforced, financial support for students is an ongoing issue affecting accessibility to Higher Education in South Africa. As those deeply committed to the academic project, we know the impact of a University degree on the transformation of individuals and society more broadly.
In this vein, the ASAWU Executive has considered this issue and would like to propose the establishment of the Wits Academic Staff Student Bursary. The funds will go to students who demonstrate financial need in covering academic fees. The plan is to create an endowment over the next 5 years through monthly contributions from Wits Academics that will be donated to the University. ASAWU will not be involved in the administration of the fund, rather Wits Student Financial Aid structures will administer. Continue reading “Student Bursary Proposal”
In response to the SRC’s call, ASAWU has donated R20,000 to the 1 Million 1 Month campaign to help plug the gap left by the 2015 NSFAS shortfall. This amount will allow us to remain committed to more long-term student support such as appointing and training a postgraduate intern and establishing a student bursary as discussed at this year’s AGM. The donation is in keeping with our strong support for students and the SRC. These initiatives in no way compromise the resources we have available for academic and individual member issues.
We are aware that a more sustainable solution is needed to this crisis; however the money raised through this campaign will allow students who are already registered and progressing to complete their degrees. We urge all members who have not done so individually to consider contributing what they can. Continue reading “SRC 1 Million 1 Month campaign”
ASAWU reaffirms its endorsement of the Senate Subcommittee Report on Performance Management and Executive Bonuses, which stated that performance-linked incentive programs involved ‘fixing a non-existent problem, using an inappropriate method, imposed on unwilling staff’. Further, we applaud the response of the Subcommittee to the Vice Chancellor’s reflections (see attached).
The Vice Chancellor’s approach to this matter and his circulated reflections (see attached) are disappointing as there is little engagement with the Report and the evidence it provides. Continue reading “ASAWU Supports the Senate Subcommittee Report on Performance Management”
Following the release of the report on performance-linked bonuses, ASAWU unequivocally supports and endorses the work of the Senate Subcommittee on Performance Management and Executive Bonuses. The report considers both the available literature and the views of a broad cross-section of academic colleagues. From this work, it is clear that performance management and performance-linked bonuses do not foster a culture of productivity and actually work to impede the free development of ideas – key elements in inculcating a spirit of innovation.
ASAWU agrees that continuing with such a scheme would not be in the best interests of the institution, particularly in a context where there have already been real improvements in research output (increase of 15%), NRF ratings and global rankings. Further, in a context where academic pay remains largely uncompetitive, performance-linked bonuses for the university leadership are inappropriate and morally indefensible. Continue reading “Senate Subcommittee on Performance Management Report”
ASAWU is still in the midst of salary negotiations. We have a dedicated team that has been focusing on crafting a multi-year agreement since mid-March with management. Negotiations to date have been based on goodwill and conducted in good faith but they are proceeding slowly. We understand that some may be anxious to know the outcome of these discussions and we are committed to communicating this once all avenues have been exhausted and the best deal possible been constructed.
In the interim, we have become aware of a rumour moving around that the proposed increase in student numbers is due to the need for better salaries. Some staff members seems to assume that ASAWU is behind this move. Continue reading “ASAWU Statement on Salary Negotiations”