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UKZN transformation targets on track

UKZN prides itself on being one of the most transformed universities in the country.
UKZN prides itself on being one of the most transformed universities in the country.

UKZN has maintained its status as one of the most transformed universities in South Africa, according to recently released statistics.

The figures show that in top management, 60% of staff at UKZN are Black African, 20% are African women and 90% are Black (ie, Coloured, African or Indian).

Meanwhile, more than 30% of Black women are in senior management positions, with over 26% part of the middle management/professionally qualified sector. Almost 50% are skilled/junior management staff members.

Compared to national workforce representation targets of 34.60% and regional goals of 39.70% for African females, the figure is 35.69% at UKZN. For African males, the targets are 41.70% for national and 45.10% for regional, while at UKZN the ratio is currently 28.52%.

Human Resources Development Director Busisiwe Ramabodu said major highlights for 2020, which was severely disrupted by COVID-19, included an increase to 63 Accelerated Academic Development Programme (AADP) lecturers being credentialed to lecturer or senior lecturer level since the beginning of the programme in 2018, with eight credentialed last year.

Good progress was also being made in the area of the New Generation of Academics Programme (NGAP), which is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) with the aim of supporting universities recruit new academics and transform their academic profile. UKZN was awarded more than R62 million for use in phase one through to phase six of the programme to assist the university pursue its transformation goals.

A total of 21 NGAP lecturers have been appointed, with five completing their PhDs and being successfully credentialed. One lecturer was appointed from the Discipline of Mathematics for phase five, with others coming from the disciplines of engineering, computer science and mathematics.

Furthermore, 32 students are involved in the UKZN Council-approved Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship (TEAEAS) and the Graduate Development Programme (GDP) and are on track to develop into academics, with 22 registered doctoral degrees. One of the students completed his PhD in 2020 and took up a position of lecturer in the School of Chemistry and Physics, making him the fifth student to be successfully absorbed into academic ranks.

Ramabodu said COVID-19 had made 2020 a challenging year for students and emerging academics, resulting in their research studies being disrupted. A priority for the year had been to ensure their needs were being taken care of through the Student Support Services and Employee Wellness Services.

Several university programmes have also been put in place to help increase the number of African female professors and African women at the developmental lecturer level.

Ramabodu said employment equity guidelines had been developed to assist with recruitment and selection. "We procured head-hunting agencies to assist us. Also the Imbokodo Women in Leadership and Academia Programme has plans to address the issues."

UKZN was awarded more than R3 million from the DHET for the establishment of five posts under the newly created Nurturing Emerging Scholars Programme (NESP). The aim is to support the development of masters' students for careers in academia.

The programmes and initiatives are all supported by the University Council and Executive, as well as the DHET, which augurs well for UKZN in the area of transformation.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

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