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Message from UJ Convocation President: Mr Mbali Mkhonto

Prof Rensburg set to bow out in 2018

Prof Ihron Rensburg was charged with the responsibility of managing arguably the most complex merger in the history of the South African higher education since 2005, and it needs no hesitation to indicate that he has done his job with distinction. It is simply impossible to evade the natural temptation of reflecting briefly on a series of successes that those of us who have been associated with the institution long enough since its inception in 2005 have been privileged to witness under his stewardship.

While this is not an exclusive chronicle for all his successes and achievements, however, some few critical ones are worth mentioning. Statistics corroborates the fact that the University of Johannesburg (UJ) brand, in less than ten years of its existence, had become the second institution of choice in the country after the University of Cape Town. We chiefly acknowledge the sterling service Prof Rensburg has rendered in this regard.

In a similar vein, UJ was noted by QS University Rankings: BRICS as one of only three South African higher education institutions that have climbed the rankings in 2016. The rankings that feature a dedicated ranking of the top 250 universities in the five countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were released in July 2016. Ranked at position 63, four positions higher than in 2015, UJ has improved its overall score. The ranking also sees UJ maintaining its 5th position in South Africa.

The ranking is based on eight performance indicators, reflecting global reputation, internationalisation, academic staff levels, and research production and impact. In terms of individual criteria, UJ received favourable ratings for its proportion of international faculty, and for its employer reputation and international students. These two indicators highlight the international standard of UJ’s teaching and learning as well as its outstanding reputation among academics and the employers of its graduates alike. The University also achieved high ranking for its academic reputation and for the quality of its research as measured by the number of citations per research paper.

The thriving of the UJ brand was not all seamless, it brought with it some unintended consequences, I want to take this time to remind you of the 2012 tragic stampede that claimed the life of an innocent mother who had accompanied her son to enrol at the Institution. It was at this juncture when the Institution improvised contingency plans as well as quelling so-called “walk-ins” during late applications beginning of the year, setting an example for other universities in South Africa. May her soul continue to rest in eternal peace.

Among others, UJ witnessed an increase on access to education for students coming from the previously disadvantaged backgrounds, we have also seen how the Institution has strived to assist students with study finances ranging from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, the establishment of the UJ under-privileged bursary scheme, and the UJ Student Representative Council Trust Fund.

While there are many challenges it confronts, it is important to acknowledge where strides have been made. Over the past seven years, the University of Johannesburg has managed to build two student residences in the Kingsway and Soweto campus, namely; Sophia Town (Kingsway) and Hector Peterson (Soweto campus), the development project of Soweto campus was estimated at +/- R400 000 000 with so many new facilities including student center, amongst others. It is indeed fascinating to see a campus that had once been looked down, now enticing a lot of students. The majority of these newly built buildings at Soweto campus are named after the freedom stalwarts, the likes of Robert Sobukwe, Tsietsi Mashinini and I want to commend our Vice-Chancellor with his team for the stunning job done in developing Soweto campus to what it is today.

The UJ Convocation remains hopeful that the next Vice-Chancellor ought to be a relatively young person who will continue with the good work and further advance the cause of transformation. This includes the promotion of black academics at the University. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the outgoing Vice-Chancellor Prof Ihron Rensburg all the best in his future endeavors and appointments. Bravo!

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