​Message from the VC: Making your voice heard – UP Culture Survey 2021

Posted on June 25, 2021

Building an institutional culture to support UP’s Strategy 2025

 In recent webinars, I made mention of some of the initiatives that will be undertaken in our journey to position the University for the future as a leading research‐intensive university in Africa, recognised internationally for its quality, relevance and impact, and for developing people, creating knowledge and making a difference locally and globally. I specifically referred to the institutional culture project that will be undertaken as a participatory process that will allow staff and students to express their views based on their personal experiences. I expect that the information derived from this project will assist us in identifying what we need to address and how, so that our institutional culture – “the way we do things around here” – supports us in achieving our strategic vision and goals.

Prof Norman Duncan, Vice-Principal: Academic, and Prof Themba Mosia, Vice-Principal for Student Affairs are chairing the Steering Committee for this initiative.

Culture Survey – Making your voice heard

To this end, we need to ask how our staff and students experience the UP organisational culture, especially during this difficult period in which we have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The University will therefore be conducting a Culture Survey in August 2021 to identify the positive and negative elements of our institutional culture. I would like to urge staff and students to participate in the survey and share your lived experiences in this regard.

The survey will enable staff members and students to make their voices heard about what is working and not working in our organisation, and how we experience the current culture. It will provide a scientifically valid snapshot of where the organisation finds itself and what needs to happen next on our culture journey. While participation in the survey will be confidential, the overall results will be shared throughout the organisation and used to formulate change management plans to improve the way our institution functions.

More information about the survey will be shared in due course.  

External service provider

The services of a competent and dynamic independent consultancy firm have been engaged to conduct the survey. The firm has extensive experience in culture studies and in the higher education sector, and was appointed after consultation with various stakeholders in 2019. The project was put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has now been revived. The internal Project Steering Committee and Project Team have also been reactivated. The company will work closely with our internal subject matter experts and other internal stakeholders, especially employees.

The company will be hosting the electronic survey on its external platform to ensure confidentiality. In addition, a number of paper-based survey questionnaires will be made available to staff members who do not have access to computers in their areas of work, to allow for staff at all levels and on all campuses to participate in the project.

Focus groups and interviews

In the next few days some staff members and students may be invited to participate in an online focus group. During this interactive meeting, facilitated by the service provider, you will be asked about your experience of UP’s institutional culture. Your insights will be used to develop a UP-specific Culture Survey Instrument.

Reference Group

Given the emphasis on co-creation, a Reference Group of approximately 25 people will also be established to work with the Steering Committee, Project Team and service provider to guide the Culture Survey. The Reference Group will comprise a diverse group of individuals (diverse by level, function, faculty, department, geographical location, etc.) representing a microcosm of the University of Pretoria, and will help guide the project process, activities, timing and communications. Meetings of the Reference Group will mostly take place using online platforms. Further details in this regard will follow.

If you have any questions about the project or require further information, please contact Prof Gerald Ouma at [email protected]




- Author Department of Institutional Advancement

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