Bureaucracy blamed for university’s research decline

There is no doubt that the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has pockets of excellence, and many talented academics who are players on the global stage. However, some staff say this excellence is being dragged down by inefficient bureaucracy, writes Sarah Wild for Business Day. Staff and students protested at the university on Thursday.

Wits is one of South Africa’s largest and oldest academic institutions. According to its strategic planning division, at the end of last year there were about 1,300 academic staff, 2,000 administrative staff and nearly 30,000 students, including 9,000 postgraduates. There are more administrative than academic staff members and, as one academic said: "It is impossible to get anything done."

David Dickinson, president of the Academic Staff Association at Wits – which has more than 700 members and is threatening to strike – said: "Between 2007 and last year, we fell more than 100 places in the QS World University Rankings…A significant problem is that the most important part of the university has been forgotten: its employees."

Deputy Vice-chancellor Rob Moore said: "There is no link between Wits’ drop in the rankings and Wits’ administrative processes. Indeed, the ranking systems related to universities are new, emergent and are continuously evolving. They are also obscure and flawed."
Full report on the Business Day site

University of the Witwatersrand staff and students protested in Johannesburg on Thursday over salaries, the university said in a statement, says Business Report. They handed a memorandum to Vice-chancellor Professor Loyiso Nongxa, asking for the reopening of salary negotiations for 2012-13.
Full report on the Business Report site