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Vice-Chancellor Message – 14 June 2024

Dear UJ community,

Our University has, in the last few years, achieved significant recognition in global rankings, even climbing to the summit of the standings in South Africa and on the African continent. However, it does not come better than the news that came our way this week. In the 2024 edition of the THE Impact Rankings, UJ improved its global standing and is now ranked at its highest-ever position of #36 globally. This is a climb of 10 places from its position at #46 in the previous year’s 2023 edition. UJ remains the best University in Africa and South Africa, holding the #1 spot in the continent and the country.

UJ retains the top spot in the UN SDG on No Poverty

UJ has again been recognised as the top University in South Africa and Africa for its contribution to poverty alleviation. This Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) assesses universities’ efforts in research and support meant to assist impoverished students and local communities. Remarkably, we are now ranked number #3 globally in this SDG. This is quite a feat, considering that year’s rankings included 1,963 institutions, an increase of 372 from the previous year. The rankings results come a week after our University achieved The Most Improved Africa University Award in the latest 2025 edition of the QS World University Rankings. This award was presented to UJ by QS for showing the biggest improvement among African institutions in the global ranking over the last five years. This is a testament to our collective efforts to translate ideas into tangible impact, and the credit goes to each of you who contributed to these milestones. To read more about this, click here.

UJ and DIRCO collaborate to enhance Campus Protocol skills

Safety and security on our campuses are important to foster a conducive atmosphere where students and staff can perform their academic and official duties without fear or concern. The UJ Protection Services Division, under the guidance of the Chief Operating Officer (Dr Mpoti Ralepata), recently hosted a comprehensive training session on State Protocol and Official Etiquette. The Assistant Director for Protocol Training led the workshop from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). Seven UJ departments participated in this training, including the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), and UJ Sport. The focus was on protocols for hosting dignitaries at UJ events and on campuses to enhance the University’s reputation and image. UJ and DIRCO are dedicated to this partnership, ensuring our staff are equipped with essential skills to excel. Continued professional development is a priority for UJ, with more training opportunities planned for DIRCO.

National Youth Day in South Africa

Sunday this weekend, 16 June 2023, is Youth Day in South Africa, commemorating the Soweto Uprisings. With this day falling on a Sunday, Monday is a public holiday. As we mark the 48th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings, we are reminded that the events of that day were more than a tragic confrontation. They were a catalyst that exposed the inhumanity of the apartheid regime and galvanised the struggle against apartheid. The legacy of Youth Day compels us to consider how we, as educators and leaders, can contribute to addressing the pressing issues faced by young people today.

Perhaps the starkest challenge our youth grapple with is the pervasive hopelessness in the face of unemployment and poverty. We need to do better to improve the quality of education and provide mentorship programmes to help young people acquire the skills needed for the job market. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people.”

Celebrating staff achievements

Please join me in congratulating Ms Nicole Deokiram, a lecturer in Public Law in the Faculty of Law, on her appointment as the chairperson of the Commission for Employment Equity. The Commission is an entity of the Department of Employment and Labour, and was established to advise the Minister on codes of good practice, regulations, policies and other matters concerning this Act. Ms Deokiram is also a research associate at the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law (CICLASS) at UJ, and an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. Well done, Nicole!

UJ Cricket wins big at 2024 DP Lions Cricket Awards

I also congratulate our Cricket Club for winning top team prizes at the 2024 Lions Cricket Awards ceremony this past weekend, on Saturday, 8 June 2024. The UJ ladies’ and men’s teams walked away as winners in various categories for the 2023/24 season. The senior men’s team received the Enza Premier League 50 Overs award. The second team, which plays in the Premier B league, won three awards: namely, the Enza Premier ‘B’ League Time Award, the Black Widow T20 Competition Award, and the Lions Premier League Overall Award. The UJ ladies walked away with the Saturday One Day Championship Award. I wish to thank Ms Nomsa Mahlangu (Senior Director: UJ Sport), the technical team and players for this outstanding achievement. Click here to read more about this.

Ke a leboha, ngiyabonga, thank you, baie dankie!

Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi: Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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

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