Rhodes University takes bold steps toward the future with IDP review

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Rhodes University management together with the Teaching and Learning breakaway team at Mpekweni Beach Resort.
Rhodes University management together with the Teaching and Learning breakaway team at Mpekweni Beach Resort.

Rhodes University constituencies converged at Mpekweni Beach Resort in Port Alfred from 12-14 August 2022 to deliberate and review the current Institutional Development Plan (IDP). The IDP Lekgotla, dubbed ‘Umkhombandlela’, which means ‘way-forward’, was attended by 60 delegates, including the Vice-Chancellorate, Council representative, Deans, Directors, Managers, union representatives and Student Representative Council (SRC) members.

Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Quality Promotion, Dr Remy Nnadozie, said the IDP is the Department of Higher Education and Training’s planning and reporting requirement for all public institutions. “For Rhodes University, as a research-intensive university, it is a document that helps us to reflect on the path we have chosen. The Vice-Chancellor has inspired us to take bold steps toward our University's next five to twenty years,” he explained.

The current IDP span is from 2018 to 2022, and a report was presented that showed that the University achieved 65% of its targets. Dr Nnadozie said the two years lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the University’s inability to perform all of its IDP targets. “Despite the two-year disruption, we achieved 65%, and we want to implore colleagues to work together to ensure that we do better. The current IDP has given us a baseline, and we will reflect on those targets we did not manage to achieve and improve,” said Dr Nnadozie.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sizwe Mabizela described Umkhombandlela as excellent and very productive. “These two and a half days were very generative in ideas, and I am very pleased that there was a lot of enthusiasm and fresh ideas that can only take our institution forward. I should also acknowledge that this was an important step that followed an institutional engagement as we started discussions institutionally and asked our colleagues to contribute. These have been brought to this forum. We have deliberated on them, and we have collected all the ideas. The next step will be for us to consider the contributions and to distil a new IDP,” said Professor Mabizela.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) representative Professor Mark De Vos said the Union appreciates the fact that the management of the University followed an inclusive strategy in the discussions. “We are very pleased with the high calibre of discussions and the work that has gone into the planning and crafting of the new IDP. The strategy is important; however, how the University implements the objectives raised in this Lekgotla will be the true driver of change. The real work begins in putting the objectives into real achievable and quantified implementation strategies,” said Professor De Vos.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) representative Vuyani Jacobs said he was happy with all the deliberations made during the Lekgotla. He said NEHAWU takes the happiness of staff members as one of the critical things that contribute to the University’s success. He also called on the University to hire more Maintenance, and Grounds and Garden staff. “For the University to ensure that its IDP is implemented in all departments, there should not be vacant posts that are not filled,” he said.

SRC President Botlhale Modisaotsile described the IDP Lekgotla as a vital and monumental aspect of the change that the SRC wants to see in the Institution. “Students and staff are the heart of the Institutional Development Plan. For staff and students to be given a chance to bring new ideas and values to the new IDP speaks to what Rhodes University represents and stands for as an institution,” said Modisaotsile.

Professor Mabizela said the draft IDP would reflect the University's bold, ambitious, and inspirational vision. He thanked Council Member Dr Nomathamsanqa Tisani for her valuable contributions to the review of the IDP. He said after the draft IDP has been formulated, further consultations will be made internally, and Council will subsequently approve the document.

“Once approved by Council, each faculty, division, and department will have to formulate their implementation plan and strategy aligned with the IDP. We shall move things forward from there. I am excited about a wonderful future for our university,” concluded Professor Mabizela.