Job Details

  • Reference number: E230397
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Type of engagement: Permanent appointment
  • Posted: January 12th

Background to Position


The Vice-Chancellor is the University’s Chief Executive Officer, reports to Council through the Chair of Council and is accountable to Senate for academic matters. The Vice-Chancellor should be a leader who is able to provide direction and inspire others. They must identify with the aims of the University of Cape Town (UCT) as set out in its Mission Statement and have a demonstrated commitment to the principles of integrity, excellence, fairness, diversity and social justice.

The Vice Chancellor is appointed with the express confidence of Council and Senate. The Vice-chancellor (VC), three Deputy Vice-Chancellors (DVCs), and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) together constitute the Office of the Vice-Chancellor. The OVC share a number of authorities and representative functions. Collectively, it provides strategic leadership to the university and is responsible for all operational management.


In accordance with the provisions of the University Institutional Statute and section 31 of the Higher Education Act, 1997 Senior Management of the university means the VC, DVC, COO, Deans and Executive Directors.



The University of Cape Town is seeking a Vice-Chancellor committed to ensuring and promoting academic freedom, transformation, sustainability, and success in its core activities of teaching and learning, research, and community engagement. The academic project remains at the heart of UCT’s mission, which is built on three pillars at the core of Vision 2030: excellence, transformation and sustainability.

UCT is home to approximately 29 000 students, and almost 6 500 staff across seven faculties, including an internationally acclaimed Graduate School of Business.

The strength of the University’s research is internationally recognised. It varies across a wide disciplinary spectrum, and produces work which has an impact on all aspects of our lives, including public policy, the environment, transformation, health, business, and social justice.

UCT is looking for a Vice-Chancellor with proven leadership acumen, and personal attributes of integrity, competence and academic excellence that will enhance the institution’s standing as a globally-recognised institution. The successful candidate will be guided by the University’s core values of respect and tolerance for cultural, religious, political and other differences, and acknowledgement of the value of diversity in society.

The Vice-Chancellor must have the courage and wisdom to identify and address the difficult issues facing the institution, 

and in particular, the financial challenges.

The Vice-Chancellor represents the University locally, nationally and internationally, and must be able to present a compelling academic vision that will persuade government, policy-makers, alumni, donors, industry partners and fellow academic leaders of UCT’s value.

The Vice-Chancellor will be expected to provide strategic leadership within a collegial environment, which has been at the heart of the University’s success.

Job Description


The VC, with support from the DVCs, is responsible for the leadership and management of the University.

This involves:

  • Providing academic, strategic, transformational and ethical leadership and vision for the institution in line with the principles enshrined in the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act 101 of 1997) and other relevant legislation;
  • Leading and managing the university in pursuing its Vision 2030 strategic plan and beyond;
  • Promoting the interests of UCT internally and externally in the private and public sectors;
  • Fulfilling the tasks assigned by the University Council and all Governance committees;
  • Chairing the Senate, senior appointment committees and core management committees as designated by Council;
  • Serving as chief executive officer, ensuring the efficient and effective management and administration of the University;
  • Establishing an institutional culture at the University that is inclusive, is based on the constitutional rights of the individual, fosters free academic inquiry and expression, and gives rise to a sense of loyalty, ownership and pride among all stakeholders;
  • Representing the university as its public face in the media, with alumni, with government and with other stakeholders;
  • Raising funds and generating new sources of income for the university and student related projects;
  • Engaging actively with the broader higher education landscape

Inherent Criteria


  • A doctoral degree or an equivalent professional higher education qualification would generally be required and the ideal candidate will be someone who fulfils most of the following criteria:
  • Has a distinguished academic and research record.
  • Has at least 10 years of senior executive leadership experience in higher education and/or a 
  • comparable environment and has an understanding of the governance, operations and affairs of a university environment.
  • Has demonstrated ability to exercise academic leadership.
  • Has a successful record of strategic management, resource management and people management skills including team work and conflict resolution.
  • Has a successful track record of sound financial management, sustainability and fundraising.
  • Has sound and proven knowledge of the social, political, educational and economic dimensions of South Africa.
  • Has sound knowledge and understanding of the key challenges and opportunities arising from the changing higher education environment in South Africa and globally.
  • Has a deep understanding of dimensions of inequality, discrimination and alienation and has experience in addressing manifestations of inequality in institutions including race, gender, sexuality, disability and the sense of alienation currently felt by students and staff;
  • Has a clear understanding of UCT as an African university, its developmental role, its commitment to deepen its linkages within the continent, internationalism, and UCT’s commitment to critical knowledge systems and promotion of public good.


  • A compelling vision of how UCT should position itself and develop in the context of new opportunities and challenges;
  • An ability to articulate shared goals and mobilise and inspire others towards this vision;
  • The ability to represent the University at all levels in the higher education, corporate and public sectors;
  • Exceptional strategic leadership and visionary skills, with highly developed capacity for managing student and staff relations;
  • A proven ability to work in collaboration with staff, staff bodies, students and external partners;
  • A high level of personal motivation, energy and enthusiasm;
  • Resilience and the ability to work effectively under pressure;
  • An approachable, flexible and change-oriented attitude;
  • Skill as a public speaker and a record of advocacy and public engagement; exceptional communication, interpersonal and networking skills;
  • An ability to operate confidently and sensitively across cultures and other divides;
  • A commitment to equity, diversity, social justice and creating unity.
  • Commitment to high ethical standards, integrity and transparency in decision-making and management.
  • The ability to navigate and lead the university through challenging situations such as crisis, controversies, and emergencies

Application Requirement

We offer a competitive annual remuneration package, including benefits. Appointment to this position is on the basis of a five-year contract, which is renewable subject to a satisfactory performance review.

Applications should be accompanied by a letter of motivation which addresses the criteria in the job description, including a statement on your potential contribution, your curriculum vitae with the names and contact details of three relevant referees and a completed and signed HR204 application form for Senior Executive posts. 

The HR204 is available at:

To apply, please e-mail the following documents in a single pdf file to

  • UCT Application Form (download at
  • Cover letter, and
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Please ensure the title and reference number are indicated in the subject line. An application which does not comply with 

the above requirements will be regarded as incomplete.

Shortlisted candidates may be requested to provide further documentation on their candidacy.

Candidates may make informal enquiries in confidence via email to the Chair of Council, at

Telephone: +27 21 650 5429


Reference number: E230397

Closing date for receipt of applications: 31 January 2024

UCT is a designated employer and is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity, and redress in achieving its equity targets in accordance with the Employment Equity Plan of the University and its Employment Equity goals and targets. 

Preference will be given to candidates from the under-represented designated groups. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at 

The University reserves the right to extend the closing date if deemed necessary and reserves the right to make no appointment.

About University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa's oldest university, and is one of Africa's leading teaching and research institutions. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government.