University transformation far from ideal - researchers

2013-10-23 22:19

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Johannesburg - An equity index has been devised to measure transformation at universities in South Africa, researchers said on Wednesday.

"For the first time, a new and innovative quantitative measure of transformation has been devised to complement the many qualitative, descriptive measures," the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the public universities transformation oversight committee (Putoc) said in a statement.

The results of a study on transformation at the country's universities would be presented to Parliament's university oversight committee on Wednesday.

Research showed the pace of transformation in universities was "far from ideal".

"The landmark study has significant contributions to guide, monitor and drive the overall transformation in this sector," UKZN and Putoc said.

Researchers said the index should play an important role in the new education white paper, six-year enrolment plan, a new equity-weighted research productivity funding framework, monitoring graduate throughput rates, and staff and student profiles.

"The advantage of this formula is that it is a simple and objective means of determining the equity profile of an organisation."

It punished over-representation and under-representation of any group, thus forcing organisations to properly plan their equity targets.

The study examined the race and gender profiles of the 23 universities in South Africa.

The equity index measured organisational and national demographics, and how long it would take for each institution to transform.

Universities divided into four groups

Researchers analysed the demographic profiles of students and staff based on the audited 2011 higher education management information system data.

Researchers came up with four groups of universities: Those with good equity indices and poor research productivity, poor equity indices and poor research productivity, poor equity indices and good research productivity, and good equity indices and good research productivity.

"The study shows that the previously advantaged institutions in South Africa, like Stellenbosch and UCT [University of Cape Town] have poor equity indices," the two groups said.

"However, these universities score well as high-level knowledge producers."

On the other hand, technology universities and some former disadvantaged institutions produced little research, but had good equity profiles.

It was argued such institutions should be set different knowledge production targets, or be advised to pursue different missions which added value to students and the sector so they could contribute to knowledge production nationally.

The researchers noted: "It does not help that these institutions take in the 'disadvantaged' and then do not add value to their skills and certification."

Read more on:    ukzn  |  durban  |  research  |  education

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