Vision 2030

A community journey towards a new vision for the University of Cape Town

A strategic vision for 2030

At the University of Cape Town (UCT) we have already invited many of you to take the first steps with us on a journey that will see the creation of a new strategy for our institution – a strategy that looks to a future we are fast approaching, a strategy that will help us focus on the challenges and leverage the opportunities we will face as we move towards 2030.

While UCT performs very well by most teaching and research indicators, the current model of the university is not sufficiently responsive to the needs of a new generation of diverse students and academics who are eager to respond to the world’s challenges. Despite its location in Afrika, UCT’s Afrikan roots are not sufficiently valued and foregrounded in its global performance as a research university or in its curriculum.

UCT has greater potential to innovate in teaching, research and social engagement than it is currently achieving. The COVID-19 crisis has shown our capacity to lead with innovative responses and imagination. We want our academic work, our research projects, our colleagues and our students to find their way into our local communities and across our country, continent and world to create positive social change and a sustainable world in which we all can live.

We believe that each one of you in this university community should be making a meaningful contribution to creating our new strategy, and our hope is that you will join us on this journey as we develop our bold new vision for 2030.

UCT’s choice to spell Afrika in its pre-colonial spelling is an invitation to reclaim Afrika’s agency and use it to validate the global character of the local in the 21st century.

The vice-chancellor's vision for UCT

When Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng was appointed as UCT as vice-chancellor (VC) in July 2018, UCT’s Strategic Planning Framework: 2020 Vision was in place. This plan was greatly influenced by the 2015/16 student protests and addressed those objectives of the previous strategic plan where the least progress had been made. As this plan draws to a close, the UCT Executive made a commitment to UCT’s Council to develop a new strategy for the university by June 2020.

The VC introduced her own vision for the university, adopting a future orientation to drive the thinking behind the development of a new strategic plan. Professor Phakeng presented the three pillars that, for her, represented the foundation of the academic project at UCT – excellence, transformation and sustainability – and challenged the university to imagine what a successful and thriving UCT would look like in 2030.

These two documents are the starting points from which the UCT community are crafting a new strategic vision for 2030.

In looking towards the future, we have to remain aware of the rapidly changing world around us, with its advancing technologies and its environmental and social challenges. We have to think strategically about how we see this university in 2030, and so we have to ask ourselves the question, “The world is changing, are we?”

In this context, UCT took a bold step when it decided to lead and shape the future instead of choosing to react and follow. With this thinking, the Futures Think Tank was born, creating the space for daring the university to realise its potential to be a trailblazer and a thought leader.

“The World is changing,
are we?”

Our journey to Vision 2030

The groundwork for UCT’s draft Vision 2030 strategy was laid in mid-2018 when the VC established the Futures Think Tank. Coordinated by Professor Alison Lewis, the dean of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment, its aim was workshopped and refined to respond to one pivotal question: “How should UCT and the way we do our work change to shape, lead and make the future in a rapidly changing world?”

The VC introduced her own vision for the university, adopting a future orientation to drive the thinking behind the development of a new strategic plan. Professor Phakeng presented the three pillars that, for her, represented the foundation of the academic project at UCT – excellence, transformation and sustainability – and challenged the university to imagine what a successful and thriving UCT would look like in 2030.

These two documents are the starting points from which the UCT community are crafting a new strategic vision for 2030.

In looking towards the future, we have to remain aware of the rapidly changing world around us, with its advancing technologies and its environmental and social challenges. We have to think strategically about how we see this university in 2030, and so we have to ask ourselves the question, “The world is changing, are we?”

In this context, UCT took a bold step when it decided to lead and shape the future instead of choosing to react and follow. With this thinking, the Futures Think Tank was born, creating the space for daring the university to realise its potential to be a trailblazer and a thought leader.

How the Vision 2030 Task Team has contributed

A strategic vision for an institution like UCT has many moving parts and requires consultation from various quarters. The responsibility for driving the development of Vision 2030 has been allocated by the VC to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Associate Professor Lis Lange and Chief Operating Officer Dr Reno Morar. The Vision 2030 Task Team, led by DVC Lange, has been coordinating and overseeing the development of the new strategy.

To contribute effectively to the new vision, the following structures have been set up:

  • Cross Functional Task Team (Vision 2030 Planning Team and representatives from the deans and executive directors)
  • Extended Task Team (Cross Functional Task Team and strategic invitees, including academics, students and key portfolio holders)
  • Two Cross Functional Working Groups (Teaching and Learning, and Research) that take responsibility for translating the institutional-level strategic decisions to the core functions.

Transformation and social responsiveness are the backbones of all strategy development processes, and we want to be innovative and inclusive as we shape a sustainable future. To support these approaches, we encourage the liberal use of conceptual tools such as design thinking, futures strategy and change management.

We believe that each one of you in this university community should be making a meaningful contribution to creating our new strategy, and our hope is that you will join us on this journey as we develop our bold new vision for 2030.

Design thinking is a process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

Initial ideas on How our Vision 2030 will achieve its purpose

The work of the Futures Think Tank helped UCT to come up with a purpose for its work that functions simultaneously as an aspiration and as the beginning of the road map to change. The Vision 2030 Task Team decided to elevate the university’s mission to embrace the world and choose as our massive transformative purpose, this single, clear statement:

UCT is a global university in Afrika unleashing human potential to create a fair and just society.

This purpose is an affirmation of the inherent creativity of humanity, as well as a recognition that the state of the world (social and natural) needs changing. Our dream is to draw from the extraordinary social and cultural diversity, creativity and capacity for innovation of all our staff and students to create together the top global university in Afrika – a university that is uncompromising in its transformative intent, deeply rooted in academic excellence and that strives for social, environmental and financial sustainability.

We will achieve this by:

  • attracting students with exceptional potential from South Africa, Afrika and the rest of the world. This diversity provides an extraordinary opportunity to develop a culture of inclusivity, collaboration and dialogue in the way we educate undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  • offering a transformative and socially engaged undergraduate and postgraduate experience, enabling our graduates to use their knowledge, skills and sense of responsibility to shape and to be at the service of society locally and globally.
  • providing both contact and digitally mediated education framed by sound pedagogy aimed at developing creativity, analytical thinking, complex problem-solving abilities, collaboration and social responsibility across disciplines and fields of study.
  • expanding our capacity to offer continuous education and micro-credentials, to respond to the changing needs of the world of work and the emergence of new jobs.
  • producing research that answers the pressing problems of today and tomorrow, which, if not addressed, will exacerbate current societal and economic inequalities.

Making a distinct contribution

In achieving the university’s massive transformative purpose, our dream is to make a distinct contribution in four main areas:


1

Holistic, innovative future-oriented education

Education must adapt to a changing technological world, but also to a student body that is more connected, more socially aware and more in need of holistic learning approaches. UCT not only produces graduates for the labour market but educates thinkers who are capable of shaping, adapting to and responding to the unknown – global citizens who are actively responsible for the world they have inherited and will leave it better for future generations. Our success in this area will depend on our ability to ensure that academics are trained higher education teachers, the introduction of transformative pedagogies in the classroom environment, the ability to renew the curriculum and provide the necessary infrastructure for teacher and students to learn together, the resources and networks to provide real work experience as part of the degree, and administrative and student support systems that contribute to a seamless student experience.

2

Solving Afrika’s problems through research

As a research-led university, and the top-rated tertiary institution on the continent, UCT is well placed with unique opportunities found in our continent to find innovative ways of doing things. We will focus on research that highlights these unique opportunities and solve problems that matter, on the understanding that Afrika’s problems are the problems of the world and we are in a privileged position to contribute to this enterprise. To do this, we must ensure that we continue to expand our local and international partnerships, improve the diversity and functionality of our interdisciplinary research teams, and develop and maintain state-of-the-art research management and support systems and facilities.

3

Thought leadership on social justice

Education must adapt to a changing technological world, but also to a student body that is more connected, more socially aware and more in need of holistic learning approaches. UCT not only produces graduates for the labour market but educates thinkers who are capable of shaping, adapting to and responding to the unknown – global citizens who are actively responsible for the world they have inherited and will leave it better for future generations. Our success in this area will depend on our ability to ensure that academics are trained higher education teachers, the introduction of transformative pedagogies in the classroom environment, the ability to renew the curriculum and provide the necessary infrastructure for teacher and students to learn together, the resources and networks to provide real work experience as part of the degree, and administrative and student support systems that contribute to a seamless student experience.

4

An organisational ethos that supports new ways of thinking, being and doing

Education must adapt to a changing technological world, but also to a student body that is more connected, more socially aware and more in need of holistic learning approaches. UCT not only produces graduates for the labour market but educates thinkers who are capable of shaping, adapting to and responding to the unknown – global citizens who are actively responsible for the world they have inherited and will leave it better for future generations. Our success in this area will depend on our ability to ensure that academics are trained higher education teachers, the introduction of transformative pedagogies in the classroom environment, the ability to renew the curriculum and provide the necessary infrastructure for teacher and students to learn together, the resources and networks to provide real work experience as part of the degree, and administrative and student support systems that contribute to a seamless student experience.

How you can participate in crafting our shared Vision 2030

As we move into the future, we need to be sharper, bolder and have a greater sense of urgency. We know that the future of our university and society depends on us being able to innovate and adapt. So, we ask you, employ you, and encourage you to join us in co-creating our future!

This Vision 2030 draft document must be improved, changed and perfected, to underpin a vision that we will work towards being experienced, embraced by all and which will take us into a positive future.

At the final meeting of our outgoing Council in June 2020, they commended the work done by the executive thus far and asked the incoming Council to take this forward when it comes into office in 1 July 2020.

Planned face-to-face feedback sessions to provide opportunities for engagement with the Vision 2030 document had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We then worked on a new way to engage with all staff and have since held five Microsoft Teams online engagement sessions during July and August 2020.

All staff were invited to attend and those who did engaged with the executive, posing questions and sharing ideas that will assist in the development of the strategic Vision 2030 document.

We thank all staff who attended the online sessions. If you missed the sessions, please read and watch UCT News articles and videos below to get a sense of what was covered. This should be read together with the draft downloadable strategic document.

We encourage you to share your views and comments, offer ideas and inputs, and creatively engage with the development of the strategic document that will guide UCT in this decade. Thank you for your active participation thus far. If what you have read and watched here has inspired you, please do connect with the Vision 2030 working group via its dedicated email address at:

vision2030@uct.ac.za

Be a part of the change at UCT and #unleash your potential, our potential to create a fair and just society.