Higher Education Conference 2015

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PwC hosted its 22nd annual Higher Education Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, under the theme "Leadership in Navigating Complexity".  In his introduction, PwC's CEO, Dion Shango, welcomed almost 200 delegates and emphasised the important role that universities play in our society. Edward Kieswetter, the CEO of Alexander Forbes, inspired delegates with one of the most memorable opening addresses of our conference. Edward spoke about the defining role of leadership and urged university leaders to be authentic; to provide clarity of thought and direction; and to remain scholarly. He argued that exponential thinking is a defining ingredient of true leadership.  

Popular CapeTalk personality, Africa Melane, facilitated a "Transformation in Higher Education" conversation between Dr Max Price (vice chancellor of the University of Cape Town) and Prof Dan Kgwadi (vice-chancellor of North-West University).  Although each of these universities face unique challenges, the panellists singled out the importance of institutional culture as an integral ingredient in furthering the agenda of a transformed institution. This was an uncomfortable, but necessary conversation that left delegates with a better understanding of the transformation journey at universities.  After that, former South African Supreme Court judge and chair of the world's first official committee on corporate governance, Prof Mervyn King shared invaluable pearls of wisdom on Corporate Governance in the higher education sector.  

After lunch, delegates could attend three of five break-away sessions, covering the five most popular topics as voted for by the delegates before the conference.  PwC sourced the best speakers for each topic.  Charlie McMurdie, a senior cyber crime advisor to PwC in the United Kingdom, flew in from London to raise awareness of the threat of cyber crime in the university sector. Chris Elfick, on behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training, shared information on the development of the enterprise architecture of the proposed Central Application Service for the higher education sector, which is expected to be operational in March 2018. Rene Richter, a seasoned rewards expert who oversees the REMchannel survey, provided insights on remuneration trends in the sector and comparisons with the private sector. Suleman Jhavary, a supply chain management (SCM) expert, facilitated an interactive mini-workshop where areas within procurement of most concern to attending delegates were discussed.  Charles Fischer, a risk assurance specialist, delivered an intriguing session about the Protection of Personal Information Act. After a highly interactive day, Marc Lottering, one of South Africa's top comedians provided light entertainment during the dinner that evening.

The second day began with a presentation by the Registrar of Limpopo, Dr Jeffrey Mabelebele, on the Future of Higher Education. Dr Mabelebele identified seven emerging challenges that requires sector-wide collaboration to secure a sustainable future for universities.  Christoph Braxton, an IFRS expert, shared insights into the five accounting matters that are most prevalent within higher education,  whilst Charles de Wet provided updates from the Davis Tax Committee relevant to the sector. Louis Rossouw, an attendee of the 2015 NACUBO Conference in Nashville, reminded delegates that the education sector is globally debating similar challenges. Dr Roelof Botha, an economist, concluded the conference with a presentation on the state of the South African economy and reflected on the importance of high-level skills.  Once again, PwC's 22nd Higher Education conference confirmed, that PwC remains the undisputed market leaders in higher education.


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