Empowering 50 000 students through knowledge and skills, UJ to ensure smooth start to academic year

​​As registration gets underway on Monday, January 11th, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has implemented a number of measures to ensure that its almost 50 000 students are able to benefit from a smooth and productive start to the new academic year.

Designed to ensure that every single student who wants to is able to access libraries, lectures, seminars, laboratories and other learning spaces as they take their next steps on the road to empowerment through skills, knowledge, and learning, the measures will be as unobtrusive as possible and as business-like as necessary. It will apply to all staff, students, and visitors to the University in the interests of all for whom the University is a place of learning, debate, inquiry, and empowerment.

UJ appeals to all students, staff, and visitors to continue to support the security staff in ensuring that the University remains free of disruptions and a place conducive to learning and teaching.

As part of ensuring a smooth and conducive beginning to the academic year, registration fees must be paid by all students starting or resuming their studies. As in the past, financial assistance will be available to those students from the poorest backgrounds who are able to show that they are cannot afford the registration fees themselves.

“The business of the University is the empowerment of individuals, families, and communities through academic study leading to concrete, sought after qualifications, and we are very proud of the thousands of graduates we have in the first decade of our existence assisted in setting a successful compass for the future,” said Prof Ihron Rensburg, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UJ.

“We are determined that we will again in 2016 make a very positive difference to the lives of many thousands of young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. To do so, we are determined that learning and teaching will proceed as planned from the first day of term.”

Access will be granted to all first year students as soon as they have finalised their registration so that they can collect their student cards.

With the exception of NSFAS qualifying students, all students will in 2016 again be required to pay registration and student fees. This is one of the important revenue streams that ensure the University can remain financially viable and able to do its job of empowering thousands of young people.

UJ recognises that not everybody can afford university fees and will continue with the support it provides via the SRC Trust Fund. This has increased significantly for 2016 to accommodate up to 15 000 students – three times the number in past years – who cannot afford to pay their registration fees. UJ will also continue to top-up NSFAS from its operating budget and with funds raised from the public and private sectors. The University will continue to provide free inter-campus bus transport and the meal support scheme for the neediest students will continue.

The usual UJ arrangements will remain in place regarding outstanding student debt. Students who are unable to pay their debt in full, must make payment arrangements with Student Finance. In respect of NSFAS qualifying students’ historic debt, and in line with the President’s announcement regarding the state’s intention to cover such debt accumulated during 2013, 2014 and 2015, NSFAS qualifying students will not be required to pay outstanding debt accumulated during this period.

Against this backdrop of significant support for the neediest students, the University has decided that in the interests of a smooth and productive start to the year for all who are eager to get underway with their studies, disruptions will not be allowed on campus. As always, and in line with the University’s student regulations, there will be room for peaceful protest.

Any attempt to disturb the smooth running of the University as it gears up for the new academic year should be seen as an attempt to take fairness and equity out of the process. Such attempts should be rejected by anyone interested in the broadest possible access to higher learning as a route to transformation and intergenerational empowerment in our country.

As a place of research, innovation, learning and teaching which rests upon the fundamental premise that the University must always be a place of open debate, UJ will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of movement and debate of all its people. This means that we will also ensure that anything which can endanger students, staff and the buildings which create the environment in which they study, teach, and work will be prevented.

In order to manage security in this situation, it has been necessary to maintain the stringent security measures that assured the integrity of the academic program in 2015. This is being done to ensure the safety and security of all students, staff and visitors to the university.

“It is crucial for everyone connected to UJ to understand that the essential prerequisite for scientific inquiry, learning, and open debate is non-violence, a peaceful atmosphere, and mutual respect,” said Prof Rensburg. “Our task is to nurture and to grow tomorrow’s leaders and to explore the frontiers of knowledge, and that means it is our duty as a University to ensure peace and security for all.”

“Our approach has always centred on a structured and constructive engagement with our students and staff and on seeking ways to together with them resolve the important issues that have in recent months been put on the table. But the absolute prerequisite for any dialogue, for any search for common ground and approaches for the future must remain a peaceful and conducive environment.”

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