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APSA engaging TimesLive on Accredited Journal

The Academic & Professional Staff Association (APSA) at the University of South Africa (Unisa) has noted with regret and dismay the recent reports in the press regarding the alleged conduct of some academic employees at Unisa. The clear and unwarranted inference made in the article, that is the article featured in the The Times, is that some Unisa academics have knowingly published in international scholarly journals of dubious standing and repute. The Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences (MJSS) was specifically mentioned. APSA (Unisa) is an independent, autonomous, a-political and registered trade union representing theinterest of academia at Unisa. It is our duty to protect members from ill-informed and malicious attacks, not only from their employer (Unisa), but also the Department of Higher Education and Training (aka DoHET), and the media. The inference is that academics, particularly those at Unisa, have published scholarly articles in the MJSS, whilst supposedly knowing that the refereeing procedures are suspect, claiming that only very few submitted manuscripts for publication have been turned down. Thus the essence of ‘peer review’ has been subverted.It is widely, universally and internationally agreed that the mechanism of peer review is the only viable mechanism to ensure and promote quality in academic publication. This is widely enshrined in many policy statements issued by both DoHET and Unisa. In order to assist academics, and to curb the cost risk to themselves, DoHET periodically issues lists of accredited journals. In the pressure chamber that academics work under, the Capitalist regime led by the ruling elite, academics are remorselessly and strenuously encouraged to publish in accredited journals; both national and international.

The MJSS appears on this list. Unisa, the employer, decided that this journal is not accredited, and in a belligerent, internal communiqué, pronounced a group of academics guilty of abusing the research policy, and condemned them. No process was followed to determine the facts, the academic staff accused as a group was not interviewed, and it was pronounced that no subsidy will be paid for those articles, as various policies clearly and repeatedly state. This implies that the effect of the Unisa’s decision to remove MJSS from its list has been invoked retrospectively, with effect (2013 and 2014). It is persistently rumoured that an additional list of seven (7) or eight (8) journals are currently also under investigation. This is a current and also potential crisis of credibility, misguided policies, poor stewardship, falling standards in tuition outputs, withdrawal of recognition of qualifications, down-grading in international ranking, miscomprehension of academic freedom, wholesale dysfunctionality within institutions, political meddling, cronyism and cadre deployment, and so the list goes on.

In fact, there is no national consensus on the real and appropriate function and priorities to be fulfilled by the higher education sector in the country. In the meantime we are failing our country by expending time and energy targeting compliant academics and students. An additional area of concern remains; why is Unisa the only institution that is currently under attack?

BB Tumi Senokoane
APSA: General Secretary

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Donations of tinned food.

APSA and the Young Extraordinary  Achievers initiative appeals to you for donations of tinned food.

Here is the background. It has always been a subject for discussion among the Union members to support an existing or launch a new charity initiative in support of poverty relief.  So when I was approached by a group of Unisa Social Work students to help their charity, I thought this was an initiative worth investigating.  The students are involved in a charity called  Young Extraordinary  Achievers. They are active in Mamelodi, mostly around the Mandela Village area (and you can see that they don’t suffer from a lack of self-belief).  I have verified their registration as a charity (you are welcome to come and inspect their constitution and registration certificate in the APSA office), and also the fact that a number of Unisa students, most from the Social Work department, are active in the YEA.  They are already engaged in several projects, and it would be best as a start for us to contribute to the food distribution project.  To avoid problems of ageing and lessening the complications of transport (that I will provide during December) a contribution of tinned foods will be the most convenient.

The name of APSA will be featured and displayed, and since we see this as merely the beginning of a cooperation between APSA and the YEA, and similar organisations in other townships and suburbs.

So our appeal is for you to please donate tins of food.

You can deliver it to the APSA union offices, in SP3-49, or phone the numbers below, or Vanessa on 083 644 5766.  We will try to collect, by pre-arrangement.

Or, you can deliver to my office in building 12-C, Sunnyside campus, room G-6.

Arrangements are in place at both for the collection and temporary storing of these donations.

I have spoken to Prof Makhanya and he is in full support of this initiative.

I thank you in advance.

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Receive the warmest greetings from your General

We have committed ourselves to the principle of making sure that remuneration disparity that is unjustifiable must be rectified. It is the task of the union to address disparities that are perpetuated by Man com. This disparity does not only exist between Academics, Research, Professional and Administrative Staff, it equally exist among Academics, Researchers, Professionals, and Administrators.  It is a serious concern. We want to make it clear that we will attend to all the unjust disparities.

However, there are obvious cases that we must attend to. For instance, Academics at CEDU and CHS are the lowest ranked in terms of remuneration. Let us compare CHS and CEDU against CLAW.  A Junior Lecturer in CHS and CEDU need an Honours Degree, while at CLAW the same degree makes you a Lecturer.

In our long struggle of Academic Grading we therefore ask the Deans and College Management of the said Colleges to use the University General Criteria of Promotions and Criteria as a standard for all. We are not  encouraging any form of  lowering of standard, but rather that a Junior Lecturer in CHS and CEDU be automatically lifted to P8, Lecturer to P7, Senior Lecturer to P6, Associate Professor to P5, and Professor to P4. The disparity between Academics of the same qualifications and workload must be attended to immediately. We will arrange a meeting with the Deans of the said Colleges; including Prof Maré, in order to address this before the end of this financial year.

After all, ‘My own mother always taught me that fairness is a family value-I think equal pay is about fairness for everyone’ (Mike Honda).

Yours in the struggle against inequality,

BB Senokoane

APSA: General Secretary