1. Why does UKZN follow a College Model?

The College Model was developed in the context of the merger between the former Universities of Durban-Westville and Natal as a means to empower the academic sector in a large and complex university. As various founding documents indicate, the model was premised on a desire to break away from the status quo, to redress the imbalances of the past, and to create a new and distinctive university from the legacies of the merger partners, integrating not only the two previous institutions, but also the various centres and campuses of the new institution.

The model was adopted following a process of consultation within the institution and in-depth research of a range of overseas institutions where the model in various forms was in operation, including Imperial College London; the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Newcastle-upon–Tyne, and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST)/Manchester in the United Kingdom; and the University of Sydney in Australia.

2. Why was a review process initiated?

The College Model has been in place for five years and it was appropriate that it be reviewed. This was also requested in the Governance and Academic Freedom Committee (GAFC) report. On the resolution of Council, an external review was initiated under a panel of experts to ensure that international best practice informed the result.

3. What are the guiding principles which underpin the reorganisation?

Reconfiguration should take place within existing Colleges and not across Colleges. Reorganisation into the new schools provides an opportunity to move away from historical practice and exploit synergies by grouping disciplines in exciting and innovative ways.

Academic decisions should be made by academics and these should drive the University’s operations.

Governance structures within the University should not be duplicated, and academic decisions should be devolved to the lowest possible leadership level within the structure.

The layers of committees and duplication of responsibilities should be reduced. Decision-making, responsibility and accountability should rest with individuals, with effective monitoring and evaluation placed at the appropriate level within the Colleges.

Academic leadership activity should be freed and separated from administrative operations in order to promote academic endeavour.

Effective and regular communication is critical and essential, and provision must be made for bottom-up as well as top-down communication.

There must be appropriate systems support (such as electronic administrative systems, webbased and/or video-conferencing facilities) to mitigate the cross-campus locations of Schools and Colleges.

4. Other Universities have been through change. Are we learning from any of these?

Reorganisation has been successfully completed by many Universities internationally. It is important that we seek to engage with those Universities that have previously been through this journey and learn from their successes and lessons learned.

Through benchmarking, we wish to find out what has worked well, as well as what has not worked in other Universities and to ensure the end results fit UKZN's specific needs. We have recently hosted visitors from Edinburgh University and the University of Manchester to learn from their experiences.

5. What is the structure of the college model UKZN is moving to and how does it differ from what we have now?

UKZN is moving from a 3-layer structure to a 2-layer structure. At present we have 4 Colleges, 8 Faculties and 52 Schools; our new structure consist of the same 4 Colleges with no Faculties and 19 larger Schools.

6. What are some of the perceived benefits of the model we are adopting?

The structure will be simpler and more streamlined with less bureaucracy. Many central functions will be devolved to Colleges to allow functional operation and decision making at the point closest to where decisions are required – within the Schools and Colleges. There will be an appropriate support structure within Schools to lessen the amount of administrative work academics are expected to do and allow them to focus on teaching and research. The ultimate goal is a better student experience, improved throughput and increased research productivity.

7. What is the timeline for implementation?

We will commence operation under the new structures on 1 January 2012. A more detailed breakdown indicating the timeframes for the various processes required during the reorganisation can be found here.

8. How will the new structure be populated?

The basic principle is that all new and restructured positions will be subject to competency assesment. The proposal is that all new positions and roles will be advertised internally (except for some College leadership positions which will be advertised both internally and externally). Existing positions at grade 9 and above which have changed in scope or complexity as a result of the reorganisation will be advertised internally within the function/College; incumbants of such positions of grade 10 and lower will be placed in the position subject to competency assesment. Incumbants of positions which have not changed in scope or complexity will retain their positions even if the posts have been devolved. 

The Proposal is not yet final and will serve at JCF and Staffing Committee for input and consultation before final approval.

9. I am an academic in a school – how will the reorganisation affect me?

The impact on academics should be minimal – they will continue to teach and research in the same areas; however they may report to a different head of school and have new colleagues in their School which will open up opportunities for new interdisciplinary research. They should also be able to call on support from the Teaching Administration staff in the School to assist with the administration and support of the modules they teach.

Further questions can be forwarded to







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