Investing in Transformation

This edition of Giving@UCT focuses on the relationship between transformation and philanthropy. It shows the significant impact that donor funding is having on the commitment of UCT to ensure that transformation is not only accelerated but that excellence is enhanced. Transformation is multifaceted. Fundamentally it is about overcoming the legacy of apartheid and colonialism. This involves, inter alia:

  • Changes to the demographic profile of the staff and student bodies
  • Teaching and learning, including curriculum design and reform
  • Staff development
  • Institutional culture, including artworks and other symbols
  • Addressing manifestations of racism and sexism

Efforts by the University of Cape Town in these respects have been ongoing for many years. But last year saw a marked acceleration – largely in response to the challenge faced by the university. We have all been asked to think more deeply about what institutional racism means and to acknowledge how differently UCT is experienced by black students and staff. There is a widespread commitment to accelerate transformation and to take personal responsibility for making the changes.

Key interventions have included the appointment of Associate Professor Elelwani Ramugondo as the Vice-Chancellor’s special advisor on transformation; employment and equity programmes; creating forums for the expression of views not usually heard; addressing the dominance on campus of the symbols that reflect a particular heritage; student access; gender and sexual harassment issues; curriculum reform; and insourcing.

These programmes are all aligned with the new five-year strategic plan, which is currently being finalised. The strategic plan is also the transformation plan for UCT since its key element is the way transformation infuses all elements of our repositioning over the next period. 2015 was a challenging but exciting year for UCT, signalling a change from what has gone before. 2016 sees these transformation programmes gain further momentum in creating a more inclusive UCT.

Dr Russell Ally

Executive Director, Development and Alumni Department

For a more detailed account of UCT’s transformation interventions since March 2015, visit the UCT website: