The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Rajanderen Naicker, was recently awarded for his outstanding presentation at the recent Data Awards ceremony, on how data is being used to transform DUT in line with Envision 2030.
The award was given in recognition of the best presentation in the Perspective of the Systems and Processes Award: Management Information Reporting.
Naicker has been serving DUT for the past 36 years. He commenced in 1984 as a clerk in the Human Resources Department at ML Sultan Technikon. He was seconded as second in-charge of the Auxiliary Services Department in 1988. In1993 he was promoted to South African Post-Secondary Education (SAPSE) Officer to provide the statutory reporting requirements to the then Department of National Education and to assist in providing information reports for institutional planning and decision making.
“The Department of Management Information (MI) was established in 1998 and I was promoted as the Manager. In 2009, Executive Management took a decision to upgrade this position to that of a Director in light of the various roles that I played in the Higher Education Sector in contributing to improving management information reporting and building staff capacity in the sector,” he said.
When he was informed on winning such a prestigious award at the 2020 Data Day awards, he was not surprised.
“It did not come as a surprise as the MI department has a reputation for its efficient and excellent service delivery. We went beyond our means to implement and roll-out PowerHEDA in such a short space of time, as well as without the necessary staffing resources. The award is greatly welcomed and it is pleasing to note that the university is recognising staff that are contributing to the achievement of its strategic goals,” he said jubilantly.
Naicker’s presentation entailed key audited student data and performance indicators aligned to the national benchmarks. He relayed that a total of 63 dashboards and 91 reports were developed, tested and published on PowerHEDA during 2020 and as at end of the year 201 academic and support staff from faculties were exposed to and given training on the software.
Speaking about his team, Naicker indicated that they were a small one of four staff in MI with a cumulative total of almost 100 years of service at the university.
“In the absence of a Database Analyst, I worked very closely with the MI Specialist, Miss Prabashnee Kisten who over and above her normal duties took on the additional responsibilities of the administration and development of the dashboards and reports that we decided upon, as well the offering of the training,” he said.
Explaining the important role of Information Reporting, Naicker said that without information reporting, decision making and planning would become impossible at DUT.
“We are able to benchmark and align our performance indicators to that of the DHET norms, other Universities of Technology (UoTs) and the Higher Education Sector. Our participation in university rankings of Multirank and Times Higher Education has recently brought much exposure and recognition to DUT,” he stressed.
Naicker relayed that he and his team are targeting to conduct more training with a drill down to department level for the academic sector, as well as the university forums and committees.
“We are striving to promote a self-help information reporting system. I am pleased to announce that Mr Mbongi Ndlovu has been appointed as our Database Analyst in December 2020 and his role will certainly assist in creating awareness on our plan,” he said.
Explaining more on projects he and his team are working on, Naicker said that they have recently introduced a dashboard that produces real-time reporting on the comparison of their actual and planned enrolments by department and programme, which is extremely useful for monitoring and interventions by the leadership.
“Our plan for 2021 is to introduce more dashboards and reports with a specific focus on reporting on live data. We have planned to double the numbers of the dashboards and reports we produced in 2020 and the number of staff trained,” he said.
For Naicker, he said his goal at DUT before he retires, is for information reporting to be easily accessible at anytime and anywhere and that staff should not be requesting these from MI. Fortunately, with the current management they have received the approval and funding to make this dream become a reality.
His advice to fellow staff who would like to also be part of such a project or initiative is that the university is providing many prospects to staff for capacity building, professional self- development and the move towards digitisation.
“I encourage fellow staff to take advantage of these opportunities,” he said.
Naicker added that he would like to extend his sincere appreciation to the Data Working Group of the Siyaphumelela Project for the motivation, proposal and monthly cadence of meetings held to implement PowerHEDA.
“The funding provided from the Siyaphumelela Project for the Project Manager and staff training together with the university strategic priority funding is acknowledged,” he said.
Pictured: Rajanderen Naicker