Carrots and Sticks: Workload and Performance Management in Odl

Thomas Huelsmann
UNISA, South Africa

Mpine Makoe
University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa

Britta Zawada
University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa


An analysis of activity-based time capturing at UNISA (University of South Africa) indicated that over time the academic administration of academics increased disproportionately to the time spent on core academic tasks such as tuition and research. To investigate this problem, data on activities and time spent on these activities were collected from academics across all levels in the College of Human Sciences (CHS) at UNISA. Content analysis revealed that academic administration at all academic levels is indeed encroaching on core academic tasks. Academic administration is, however, not acknowledged as part of the Key Performance Areas (KPAs) of academics which are measured purely based on the outcomes, such as research papers published and student success rate, and not on their actual daily activities. Core academic activities such as research are increasingly pushed into evenings and weekends, and community engagement is put on the backburner due to more immediate demands. Academics recorded working on average 8.6 hours on a typical day with a typical distribution of 3.7 hours for tuition, including postgraduate supervision (43%), 2.2 hours for academic administration (25%), 1.4 hours for research (17%), 1.2 hours for academic citizenship (14%), and 0.1 hours for community engagement (1%). Finally, this study recommends the alignment of the actually experienced academic activities with the outcomes-based performance measurements.

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