Rhodes staff call for rethink on budget
Concerned Rhodes University staff members have sent out a campus-wide open letter to senior management calling for more budget transparency and transformation. The Alternative Transformation Forum, a collective of academic and administrative staff, also called for input on an "alternative budget".The letter, circulated on Friday, cited the continuing national higher education crisis as a catalyst to rethink, and even shift, budget sustainability and transformation."The economic relationship between Rhodes University and Grahamstown compels us to apply our collective minds and agency to finding sustainable solutions that could offer a feasible strategy and example to others."A viable Rhodes University means a viable Makana and our small, public university must no longer be perceived as a beacon of privilege on the hill, but an integral part of the Eastern Cape economy."The newly formed group, calling itself a "loose association" of staff interested in transformation, said the ATF provided a platform to discuss higher education problems."Our open letter on the budget process at Rhodes is part of an ongoing engagement with the urgent question of funding facing higher education due to the declining state subsidy and rising fees."We feel it is part of our duty as members of the university community to engage openly on these issues and draw on the expertise of the collective university community."University spokeswoman Catherine Deiner said yesterday staff and students were welcome to provide input at any stage of the budget process prior to the final version being submitted."Before budget meetings all departments and divisions are asked to submit a 'wish list'.The ATF letter warned that the university would suffer if cost cutting continued.