Vice-Chancellor Message – 10 September 2021

From The Vice Chancellors Desk

Dear UJ Community,

Given the ongoing recess period, I trust that students and, where applicable, staff are taking some time out to rest and reflect. This week, our University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) held a mock unveiling of a sophisticated agile mobile robot, acquired from Boston Dynamics®. Of course, the sleek robot “dog” can move around with agility, climb stairs, run and even hop, but there is no need to be alarmed.

It is part of IIS’s ongoing initiatives to develop robotics, advance academic training and technology transfer, at the University. As this is an exciting programming and robotic platform, to further the awareness, I posted to my social media pages. One posting, picked up over 269 000 views, with both positive and negative replies. For example, whether job creation will be contended by automation, etc. Within the reality of a changing world of work, we are preparing our students through this and other platforms.

Researchers at the IIS can use it to help in the development and testing of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and 4IR-driven solutions for various application areas such as healthcare, disaster management, construction, mining, industrial inspection, maintenance and even the entertainment industry. Congratulations Professor Babu Paul and your team on this important initiative, I am told it is the first in academia in South Africa and on the African continent. This typifies what 4IR in action is all about, well done!

Still on 4IR matters, I am pleased to announce that the UJ Moot Court team has advanced to the quarter finals of the All Africa Regional rounds of the FDI International Arbitration Moot Court competition. The team, made up of two talented students, Mr Karabelo Mokoena (3rd year, LLB) and Ms Ayanda Maselela (3rd year, BA Law), has won all of the matches they have argued in over the course of the two days. Our Moot Court team, as the top performers from the SADC region, will form part of the Pan-African team in competing in the Global competition. The FDI Moot Global Orals are scheduled to take place from 28 October to 3 November 2021. Congratulations and all the best in the global competition!

Yesterday, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) released the results of the latest iteration of the Quality-of-Life Survey (QoL) for the 2020/21 financial year. The GCRO is a research institute that helps build the knowledge base to make the Gauteng City-Region competitive, spatially integrated, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. It is a partnership between the provincial government, UJ, Wits University, and organised local government in Gauteng (SALGA-Gauteng). In a more in-depth manner, the QoL looks at how residents live, to understand their experiences, perceptions and challenges in their living conditions, socio-economic circumstances, self-reported health and well-being, psychosocial attitudes and beliefs, as well as perceptions of government, service delivery and local challenges.

The findings show that the economic impacts of the pandemic are extreme, with many respondents reporting reduction in salaries and working hours, as well as job losses, among other outcomes. They also show that grants and social support have provided some crucial protection to the most vulnerable. The findings inform Gauteng City-Region strategic planning and policy.

Talking of this, we will begin our second semester virtual VC Campus Engagements, starting from 21 September to 7 October 2021. These are important engagements for us to have a sense of our University’s standing, in the face of the ongoing challenges in the COVID-19 era and how we continue to navigate that to ensure the sustainability of our business model. For your planning purposes, the dates are as follows:

  • SWC – Tuesday, 21 September 2021 from 12:00-13:30
  • DFC – Thursday, 30 September 2021 from 12:00-13:30
  • APB – Wednesday, 6 October 2021 from 12:00-13:30
  • APK – Thursday, 7 October 2021 from 12:00-13:30

If there any specific issues you want addressed or if you have a particular question, please email to before 12:00 on Thursday, 16 September 2021. Relevant links to join in the discussions will be shared closer to each of the event, starting next week ahead of the Soweto Campus event.

Next week Wednesday, 15 September, the Marketing and Brand Management unit, within University Relations, will present the final Cloudebate™ for 2021, and it will look at the topic of Cyber Bullying. As our lives are increasingly impacted by what happens online in the digital world, we all must adjust to the good and the bad of living virtually. One major issue is that cyberbullying, trolling and similar personal attacks on social media and via messaging apps and their groups, can be truly destructive, with real world negative impact on specifically young people, but also more regularly in the workplace. Don’t miss this from 18:00 to 19:00 on Wednesday – register here.

On Friday, 17 September 2021, we will have the UJ Virtual Long Service Awards Ceremony to celebrate the staff members with 20 years and more of service at the institution in the year 2020. The ceremony starts at 10:00. Please join in 5-10 minutes before by clicking here.

Lastly, we once again remind our students and staff who have not yet vaccinated that our University has dedicated vaccination sites to assist them. As already communicated, as many as 100 University of Johannesburg (UJ) students and staff can now get vaccinated a day at the Liberty Life vaccination site in Braamfontein, from 14:00 and 16:00 daily. We also have an arrangement with Netcare Milpark vaccination site, Buses have been made available to ferry our staff and students to these sites.

For logistical reasons, buses will ferry our staff and students from the Soweto and Doornfontein campuses to the Liberty Life site. Those at the Auckland Park Kingsway (APK) and Auckland Park Bunting Road (APB) campuses are encouraged to use buses to the Netcare Milpark site. Buses will depart from the respective campuses 30 minutes before the start of scheduled vaccination time. For staff wanting to visit any of these sites, shuttle services will be provided (if required). To assist us planning for the provision of transport, please register at least a day before the date on which you wish to get vaccinated. For transport bookings, click here

Please inform us about your vaccinations status via the link: Enter the information after your first vaccination, and where relevant, update it after your second vaccination. The survey takes less than one minute. We use the numbers (and not your personal details), to inform us on the vaccination statistics of the UJ community. The statistics will guide us in our response to the COVID-19 situation and the implementation of our re-integration plans. You may also use this link to notify our campus clinics if you have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you know of a colleague or a student who has tested positive.

The University leadership will continue to monitor the national and provincial COVID-19 outlook, and an update will be provided accordingly. This information may be verified by visiting: Should any of you experience symptoms of the coronavirus, please use the National Hotline of 0800 029 999 or WhatsApp line 0600 123456 or go to the following link for more information:

Please continue to check uLink. Please notify our campus clinics if you have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you know of a colleague or a student who has tested positive. Please also continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: 

We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing ( at all times.

Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
|Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg

Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.

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