Describing the University as an international university of choice anchored in Africa, which is determined to shape the future, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Rensburg urged staff to continue pursuing excellence and the UJ values in their day-to-day work at the first VC Campus Engagement Session for 2014. The engagement was held at the University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality at the Bunting Road Campus on Friday, 14 February.
Joined by members of the University’s Executive Leadership Group (ELG), Prof Rensburg stressed that he remains deeply grateful at the strides that the University continues to make towards its 2025 vision and the commitment to, and investment from staff to complement the strategic direction of the institution.
ELG members echoed, Prof Rensburg’s sentiments as they acknowledged the staff contributions for the numerous national and international accolades UJ received in its 9 years of existence. “We are beginning to see that our efforts are bearing fruit, and establishing ourselves as a world-class institution. Such achievements do not come easily, but when we put in extraordinary efforts we get extraordinary results”, Prof Rensburg said.
In 2013, the authoritative QS World University Rankings ranked UJ among the top 4% of universities in the world – placed between 600-650 out of 16,500 universities – and among the top 1% of universities in the BRICS countries, that is Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – placed 61st among this economic bloc’s 6,200 universities. The URAP rankings that focus solely on research output, research impact and global research collaboration, place UJ among the top ten universities in Africa. UJ is also the only African university that is admitted to the highly respected consortium of 28 research-intensive universities in the world – Universitas 21.
Prof Rensburg also addressed the National Student Funding Aid Scheme (NSFAS) that sparked unrest by a few students at UJ and at other universities.
He pointed out that UJ is in a class of its own, in the various ways in which it provides enhanced and additional support to students. In 2014 for example, UJ will spend roughly R95 million from its own funds in projects meant to enhance student access and success rates. This amount is more than 30% of the UJ 2014 NSFAS grant. Up to R47 million of the R95 million will be used to assist students (new and continuing) affected by the NSFAS short fall. About R30 million will be distributed by faculties in the form of merit bursaries to students. To enable students to travel between the four
UJ campuses, an additional R14 million will be spent in the provision of bus transport.
An excellent collaborative initiative is the UJ meal assistance programme, administered on behalf of the University by the ‘Gift of the Givers’ – a non-governmental organisation. Under this initiative, more than two thousand needy students receive two meals a day. Prof Rensburg also highlighted that in order to prepare student leaders to the plight of their fellow students as well as to teach them the basic skills of public responsibility, UJ has established an SRC Trust fund for needy students. This fund is managed and administered by the SRC under the supervision of the University.
Referring to the UJ students as his own children, Prof Rensburg assured the students that UJ will walk their university journey with them. “When we take the decision to accept a student at UJ, we leave no stone unturned to ensure that that student succeeds. As a student, your decision to come to UJ is a good decision. But world class means nothing in the absence of making every effort to help you succeed. And that means we do our best to support you comprehensively”, said Prof Rensburg.