1 March 2020
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Why this petition matters

Started by Concerned Academic Task Committee

From: Academic Staff Members (CPUT)

This petition serves to express objection to the draft policy on Promotion of Academics that is being circulated by the PPTT for our inputs. We have reviewed the draft policy as requested by the PPTT and our view is that the policy does not resonate with the current conditions and challenges confronting academics in this institution (Cape Peninsula University of Technology). Our view is that the requirements for all levels of promotions are outrageous and hardly compare with traditional university requirements, which are by nature completely different from University of Technology institutions (UOT). These requirements are only for CPUT implicitly tailored to further exclude many, hence there is no glaring evidence of benchmarking with other South African University of Technology institutions. The benchmarking is skewed in favour of traditional universities thereby ignoring the fact that these universities are immensely different than us at a contextual and operational level.

The objection of the draft policy by academic staff members is based on, amongst others, the following valid reasons:

• In the recent past years, the promotion policy and its application during each promotion call have compounded huge criticisms, complaints and dissatisfaction among the academic staff members. Issues about inconsistent application of the policy, unfair decision and lack of objectivity which further prejudice many deserving and hardworking academic staff members are issues which still cast doubts and suspicion on the viability of this draft policy. We express our disappointment that this policy is far worse than the previous Ad Hominem Promotion Policy.

• The drafting of the policy has neglected crucial concerns of the lecturers (i.e., from Junior Lecturer to Professors) who understand the day to day living conditions of academics in this institution. While the Task Team was selected by the senate where with only two candidates representing academics, we express our view that such representation does not provide meaningful participation for all of us. The draft was codified without our robust and critical engagement reflecting on the past mistakes of the old policy.

The draft policy has ignored some crucial issues that should have been considered by the task team in ensuring that the policy does not unfairly exclude some academics. Key of these, is the exclusion of academic staff who have masters from applying for promotion to senior lecturer. This provision of the draft policy will undoubtedly exclude so many people of this category including those who were rejected in the previous call because they were shortfall of 1 or 2 scores to reach the required thresholds. Does it mean they have to go back to enroll for PhD for 4 years or more? How are we going to reconcile the huge workloads, the 5 years period of publications (stipulated in this draft) and other related duties for the candidates that are to complete their PhD; invariably in no less than 5 years? If UCT ‘s promotion policy is able to promote candidates from lecturer to senior lecturer without PhDs; why CPUT is drifting away from this practice? Unlike traditional universities, CPUT is a university of technology with key emphasis in teaching and learning concomitant with collaboration with industry. Unlike UCT and other traditional universities, CPUT’s academic staff members enrol students, teach and place them in the industry through work integrated programme.

• The issue of the inclusion of National Research Foundation (NRF) rating system as a requirement for professorship is still highly questionable and controversial because the NRF is not unambiguously accepted or codified as a standard used by major traditional universities in South Africa as a mere requirement for promotion to Professorship. There are so many world-renowned academics in their field of enquiry who do not subscribe to the NRF rating system for many "sound intellectual" reasons. The imposition of the NRF rating system as an objective standard deciding the fate of many hard working academics of this institution seriously undermines academic freedom that academics should enjoy. For instance, what is a fair and objective NRF rating systems for someone doing Fashion and Design or Accountancy, not to mention Legal studies? The answer to this question is that there is no NRF rating system for these field of studies. In fact, that’s why most traditional universities do not use the NRF rating standards to decide on the fate of those applying for full professorship. I addition, other traditional universities talk about “track records” of research output while CPUT (even in this draft policy) are imposing a 5 year and yearly production of publications (1.5 unit-for Full Professor). This rule is imposed without consideration of enormous teaching, administrative workloads and other working conditions facing academics in this institution. It is then worth questioning if a person loses their NRF rating, do they in-turn lose their professorship as the NRF rating is only valid for a period of 5 years.

• The scoring and rating system in this draft is still very subjective, leaving the selected few to decide on the fate of many hard-working academic staff members of CPUT. This subjective nature which may further invite more litigations as many of the staff members cannot accept to be subjectively short-changed by just one or few individuals sitting in the promotion committee.

In view of the above concerns, we thus request the PPTT to do the followings:

(1) Conduct participatory workshops throughout the university, .i.e., in all faculties and campuses. This will give the opportunity to gather the views of all the concerned academic staff members on what they think should be included or excluded in the policy.

(2) The above motion will not create any unnecessary costs or delays as executive management can advise the deans to convene special Faculty Board Meetings (FBM) for all faculties. If you had been able to organize special Faculty Board meetings for other items, why not organize an urgent public hearing for this important emotive issue as ad hominem promotion policy.

(3) We demand that the process must be transparent, and the issues raised must take into account all the views raised by affected and interested staff members.

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Signatures: 31Next Goal: 50
Support now