”As one of our first-year top achievers, you have clearly made the school-to-university transition successfully. This is an important landmark for you, as it is in the life and calendar of the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Your accomplishment is the accomplishment of the University. Together, we embrace the overarching goal of excellence.”
This message from the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic, Professor Angina Parekh inspired 400 first-year top achieving students at the University’s annual First-Year Top Achievers Ceremony at on Wednesday, 26 September 2018. This year produced one of the highest number of first-year top achievers since the inception of UJ after the University successfully completed its integration process. The exceptional performance of the record number first-year students, having obtained an average of 75% or more in their June 2018 examinations, demonstrates the University’s commitment to support its first-time students making their school-to-university transition, and compliments the strategic direction of the institution.
The five top achievers obtained an average of 89% plus. Sheridan Pienaar, who matriculated from Marist Brothers College (Linmeyer) attained an overall average of 92.2%, and is studying towards a BSc in Mathematical Science (Actuarial Science). Bronwyn Harmse received a more than admirable second place with an average of 91.7%. Bronwyn is studying towards a Bachelor of Biokinetics, and she matriculated from Pretoria Girls High School. Alex Brocco, Matthew Hoy and Amir Karim, all obtained an average of 89.8%. Brocco, who matriculated from Rand Park High School, is studying towards a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. Hoy, who matriculated from Nothcliff High School, is studying towards a BSc in Information Technology and Karim in a BSc in Mathematical Science (Actuarial Science). Karim matriculated from Eden College.
Of the 400 top achievers, 228 were female and 172 male.
Says Sheridan Pienaar, the top first-year achiever: “I did not aim to become a top achiever. I really did not expect it. Although I have worked hard, I need to commend UJ for all it support; The University has a lot of support programmes and excellent teaching staff.”
Harmse echoed Pienaar’s sentiments, adding that UJ contributed to her achievement in many ways. “My lecturers were all very helpful and always willing to answer any questions, whether in person or via the various communication networks. It also helped a lot that most learning material was available in Blackboard, an online system that makes it easy to study from wherever I was. UJ also provides many free services to students, such as the writing centre, which is of great benefit when compiling an essay.”
Harmse commended the University’s Library. “I use the Library facilities a lot. The area is well equipped and easy to work/study in. there are more than enough workstations that ease the use of this great facility.
On his accomplishment, Matthew Hoy, one of the Top 10 achievers said: “The tutors are very helpful during the tutorial sessions. The Computer Labs is well equipped and I often frequented the Labs in my spare time for study purposes. The University environment is conducive to that of what is accepted of a higher education institution”
Top two Diploma students, Dashendran Pillay and Betrim Farmer; both studying towards a qualification in Emergency Medical Care complimented the University lecturing staff adding that resilience and hard work are part of the journey.
Four of top achievers hail from UJ Metropolitan Academy in Crosby, Johannesburg. UJ Metropolitan Academy is the University’s high school and co-sponsored by Metropolitan. The Academy nurtures selected high school learners from disadvantaged communities who demonstrate potential for success in studies at higher education institutions.
The College of Business and Economic produced 189 of these achievers, followed by the Faculty of Humanities with 63 achievers. The Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Built Environment had 41 and 40 top achievers, respectively. The Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Law boast with 23 and 22, top achievers respectively.
The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture produced 15 top achievers and the Faculty of Education had 7 achievers.
The University’s First Year Experience Programme (FYE), an initiative offering academic skills reinforcement with an accent on students mentoring fellow students is one of the support programmes that helps ease the school-to-university transition. Student tutors, selected from third-year level, do well academically, are good communicators, are able to identify with students’ needs and act as an interface between students and teaching staff. UJ also introduced academic advisors in university residences and approved off-campus accommodation facilities. Under UJ’s Academic Excellence Programme, student advisors are serving a number of first-years across the University’s residences.