Welcome Remarks by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ihron Rensburg on Occasion of the 2015 Academic Opening and First Years’ Welcome of the University of Johannesburg 30 January 2015 Sanibonani, Thobela, Goeiemore, Good morning! Director of Ceremonies, Prof Karen Scherzinger Members of the Council of the University of Johannesburg, notably our external council members: Messrs Frans Baleni and Denice Manganye and Dr Simo Lushaba Deputy Vice-Chancellors and the Registrar Executive Deans and Directors The President of the UJSRC, Mr Khutso Rammutla and your fellow UJ and Campus SRC colleagues 2 Members of Senate and Fellow Academics Professional and Support Staff Alumni of the University of Johannesburg Friends and Colleagues Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished Guests, and a most special welcome to our most welcome Parents and Students It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 2015 academic opening. This is an important event in the University’s annual calendar. It is an opportunity for the University community to welcome our students and in particular to welcome our new first year students. On this occasion we also wish our students every success with their studies in the year ahead. And this event prompts us to review our progress and to look into the future, complete with its challenges and opportunities. 3 As Vice-Chancellor, I am deeply humbled and honoured to stand before you today as we inaugurate the 11th academic year of the University of Johannesburg – an international university of choice, (which is) anchored in Africa and (which is) dynamically shaping the future. We celebrate 10 years since our founding as the University of Johannesburg. These years have been challenging and tumultuous, yet also inspiring and triumphant. During this decade, our university has not only prevailed but profoundly flourished, and for this we are deeply grateful and encouraged. Born out of a merger in 2005 of our three legacy institutions - Technikon Witwatersrand founded in 1921, Rand Afrikaanse Universiteit founded in 1968 and Vista University founded in 1979 - the University of 4 Johannesburg, your university – and I use the word ‘YOUR’ intentionally – has established a reputation of accessible excellence. For six years in succession, aspiring university entrants have, in a scientific survey, voted UJ as the second coolest and preferred university brand in South Africa. As well as being an institution priding itself for its accessible excellence, UJ has also established itself, after only ten years, as an institution of global excellence and world class stature. Last year, the authoritative QS World University Rankings once again ranked UJ among the top 4% of some 18,000 universities in the world and among the top 1% of universities in the BRICS countries, that is Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The URAP ranking that focus solely on research excellence and global research collaboration, places UJ among the top ten universities in Africa, with UJ improving its 5 position from nine to eight. In the QS Subject rankings, UJ’s Education, Law, Politics and International Relations, English Language and Literature, and Geography rank among the world’s elite Top 200 programmes. To this prestigious list, we should also add flagship programmes such as: Accounting, Electrical and Electronic/Mechanical/Civil/Mining Engineering, Mathematics/Applied Mathematics, IT/Computer Sciences, Human Physiology, Optometry, Finance and Psychology. All of these accomplishments are the result of the considerable efforts of our academic and support staff and students, heads of departments and schools, senior and executive leadership, our Council, our Alumni, and our many partners, and I am truly grateful to all. UJ has come of age, and stands in the company of great universities. 6 We boast world-class, internationally recognised academic programmes based on curricula informed by cutting-edge developments in both undergraduate and postgraduate education. More importantly, our programmes are designed to prepare students for the world of work and for global citizenship, and we have established a solid reputation of excellence, especially in our flagship programmes. Now, to make our teaching, research and innovation goals a reality, we have over the past 8 years invested in excess of R2.5 billion in the upgrading and expansion of living and learning facilities on all four our campuses, viz., Doornfontein, Bunting Road, Soweto and Kingsway, and to create a safe and secure world-class learning and research environment for our staff, students and visitors. This work continues, especially that of improving the on- and off-campus safety of our students, staff and visitors, and this year we will complete the 7 establishment of off-campus safe corridors and a significantly enhanced camera monitoring system. Our undergraduate student success rate now stands at 83.2% and the overall annual graduate output is now almost 12,000 students. Importantly, 95% of our students obtain employment within 12 months of graduation, while many establish their own successful small enterprises. Our vision is to be nationally responsive in a manner that only we can be, while we pursue global excellence and stature, again in a manner that only we can be. In this regard, among our country’s leading universities, only UJ provides, in a purposeful manner, access, with success, to almost 2,500 first year students who come from our poorest communities, providing them with top-up NSFAS funding, SRC Trust Fund bursaries 8 and two healthy meals a day that comes in at a total investment in our shared future in excess of R95M last year. Our work is far from finished. For the next ten years to 2025, we have set six strategic goals for ourselves to accomplish so that we can further elevate our global academic reputation and stature as well as make our unique contribution to South Africa and the world. In this regard, the university will invest an additional R600M over the next six years in catalytic projects that are aimed at further enhancing our already excellent teaching and research programmes, as well establishing new flagship teaching and research programmes. You have made a wise choice in choosing UJ as your alma mater. You have become accustomed to achieving magnificently, and so it is the case with us here at UJ. 9 Let me now turn my attention specifically to our new university students with a focus on the academic year that lies ahead. As a student at UJ, you are part of close to a million young people in South Africa who are enrolled in university education. In a country of more than 50 million people, you are part of, arguably, the most privileged million. To appreciate the nature of your privilege and opportunity, consider that in a recent census, Statistics SA showed that there are 3.4 million young South Africans, aged 15 to 24, who are not in employment, not in education and not in training – roughly 32.9% of persons in your age group. Having worked your way up to this juncture in your life, you must now proceed to prove yourself by making a resounding success of your 10 studies. This will not be easy, however with your efforts and our support, I can assure you that you will succeed beyond your expectations. Consider simply the example of your university, and its progress over the last 10 years: considerable effort with many challenges along the way has resulted in it becoming not only a leader in SA but it is now counted among the very best universities on our planet. The UJ values are anchored in the themes of: Imagination, Conversation, Regeneration and Ethical Foundation, and I encourage you to learn about and engage with these guiding concepts, as they will be instrumental in your future success. Furthermore, the UJ Student Charter is based on these four foundational values. Having already signed up to the UJ Student Charter at registration, I encourage all our students to familiarise yourselves with the 11 UJ Student Charter and to ensure that its principles are actively internalised and lived. Your first year at UJ will stretch you, perhaps as you have never been stretched before. Rest assured though that with great effort on your part, combined with the university’s hard working academics and its extensive tutor system you will be able achieve what you are used to: achieving the extraordinary! Your journey here at UJ is an important one not only for you and for us, but also for your family, your community and your nation. Your success is our success, it is your family’s success, it is your community’s success, it is your nation’s success: Your legacy making begins today here at UJ. And, we all have a stake in it! Indeed, you are our hope for the creation of a far better, inclusive, caring and sustainable world. 12 In becoming part of UJ’s almost 50,000 students – 2,800 of whom are international and 7,200 postgraduate – you have made a wise choice with regard to your study destination. You are also positioning yourselves for future leadership because UJ graduates are making their mark as leaders in many fields in South Africa, on our continent and further afield. At UJ, the student experience is permeated with a level of excellence few institutions can match. We are mindful that a university education is not just about acquiring knowledge and skills for the marketplace. Certainly we aim to equip you for the workplace but we also understand that it is our duty to prepare our students for life. This means that UJ students need to know about our manifold and histories and heroic but yet incomplete struggles for freedom and democracy. You need to know the regional and international context in which you live. You need to understand and experience the many rich 13 and diverse cultures of our people and the religious beliefs that they hold dear. You have made an astute decision to study at UJ, a higher education environment that mirrors the democratic ideals of South Africa. Here you will have the opportunity to interact with students from all walks of life, across South Africa and you will gain tolerance and compassion. You will have the opportunity to learn with, and from, international students from over 80 countries and this will broaden your horizons. You will have the prospect to volunteer, to give of your time and energy in service to our communities. It is the best manner in which you can give back to your society that is now making this considerable investment in helping you achieve your and your family’s amazing dreams. By serving our communities you will experience humility and the joy of giving. 14 It is these meaningful interactions with others that prepares us for life -a life of meaning within community. Tolerance; empathy; open minds and responsible citizenship: these are the qualities of UJ graduates. At UJ, you will be brought into contact with the best lecturers and researchers from South Africa and beyond. We engage distinguished professors, excellent postdoctoral fellows, well qualified senior tutors and dynamic assistant lecturers so that you can learn, be tutored, challenged and go well beyond your dreams. During your stay at UJ, you will be given opportunities for periodic study abroad with our top ranked partner institutions. Be on the look-out for these opportunities and take full advantage. Our new Institute for Advanced Studies, a global partnership with Singapore’s prestigious Nanyang Technological University, will offer you opportunities to observe and listen to the best minds in the world, including Nobel laureates, as they tackle some of the grand challenges facing humanity at this time. 15 You will be immersed in a learning paradigm that harnesses technology for teaching, research and innovation. Each of our four campuses will offer you a world-class modern library. Our student residences and day houses will make you part of a dynamic living and learning community of students and you will make bonds that will last you a lifetime. The first semester is intense and demanding. Pace yourself and knuckle down to your studies from the very beginning. If, along the way, you stumble and falter, do not despair and do not linger: pick yourself up and quickly get back to work. Take full advantage of our technology-rich approaches to teaching and learning and the world class resources we have put in place to support your academic life at every turn, from our extensive Tutor system, to the Writing Centres, to the academic development and counselling units. As well as the outstanding sport and cultural facilities and opportunities. 16 Let no one and nothing stand in your way of achieving your dreams. Let no one intimidate you into losing the sparkle … the light that defines you! Always keep in focus your goals and the legacy you will leave behind. And, may your belief in your dream continually drive your pursuit of excellence. Remember always that UJ is YOUR University. It has many great offerings, but it is up to you to take advantage of them and then to add value in your own right. Take your place with pride and aim to do us all proud. We have full confidence in you. To your parents, we say: thank you for entrusting the future of your child with us. We will not disappoint you. And, please, do make time to support, encourage and love them as they enter this new life changing period of their precious lives. Thank you! Ngiyabonga! Rea Leboha! Baie dankie!
© Copyright 2018