Vice-Chancellor Message – 17 February 2023

Vice Chancellor Message Banner 01Dear UJ Community,

Last week, the two of us and other colleagues in the University’s Executive Leadership Group (ELG) took a ride on one of our new electric vehicle (EV) buses. This provided us with a first-hand experience of the look and feel of this state-of-the-art mode of public transport. Those responsible for managing the project raved about how the buses offer new levels of speed and comfort without the toxic fumes of their diesel predecessors.

And so, there was great expectation as the bus we boarded pulled out of the Auckland Park Kingsway (APK) Campus into the maze of Joburg’s morning traffic. The bus did not disappoint, as the trip turned out to be a smooth ride and a wonderful experience. Save for the onboard chatter and laughter and the humming of the air conditioning, no other noise came from the bus. At times, when we came across pedestrians crossing the road in non-designated areas, we could not help but wonder if they would hear the bus approaching.

The unveiling of these buses – a first for a South African university – could not have come at a better time, as many of our students were returning to campus for the start of the 2023 Academic Year. The buses are a much-needed addition to the existing inter-campus fleet that ferries students to lectures across our four campuses. As a University, we are very proud to be able to offer this new bus service to our students.

As some of you would have noticed, this bus project received extensive coverage and glowing reviews in the media. This highlights the importance of green energy, especially in a country that is battling climate change and global warming challenges. As an ambitious and futuristic University, we will be rolling out more buses in the coming years. This is part of UJ’s efforts to go green by reducing our carbon footprint, in line with our vision to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To read more about our EV buses, click here. You may also watch some of Prof Mpedi’s media interviews on CNBC and eNCA.

If you are not familiar with how the free inter-campus bus service works, please take note of the following:

  • A valid UJ student or staff card will allow you free access to the UJ buses;
    • Students and staff without a valid UJ card will not be allowed on the buses;
    • Importantly, no one will be allowed to board a UJ bus using someone else’s card.

As communicated last week, we would like to make the experience of our first-time entering students as seamless as possible. To familiarise yourself with the various initiatives we offer, click here. You may also visit our website for more information about other support structures, as well as out-of-class experiences and opportunities.

Our Division for Institutional Planning, Evaluation and Monitoring (DIPEM), with the assistance of the Student Enrolment Centre (SEC), conducted an Orange Carpet Welcome Survey amongst the 1 633 first-year Orange Carpet students that registered at UJ (an increase of more than 500 students compared to 2022). As a reminder, to qualify as an Orange Carpet Student, one must meet the programme entry requirements and have an APS score of 37 and above, with no subject below 70%.

Amongst those that responded, almost two-thirds indicated that UJ was their first choice university, while half indicated they were first-generation university students. Some of the comments received included: “It is the greatest experience I have had so far. It was not my first choice, but I’m now feeling like it is the university I’m destined to be in“, “My experience at UJ is the most exciting and best feeling. The mentors, lecturers, librarians, etc. welcomed the first year students with warm and opened hands“, and “So far UJ has been great. I love the fact that they are offering sports on campus and res culture seems to be amazing. Its Lekker!!!“. We extend our gratitude to everyone who contributed to ensuring another successful enrolment period.

Next week sees the start of the first round of brand pop-up shops for 2023. Visit the Reimagination Station Trailer to stock up on UJ branded merchandise. The pop-up shop at the Soweto Campus (SWC) will be open from 09:30 to 15:30 on 24 February in front of the Imbizo Hall, and the Marketing and Brand Management team will also be handing out welcome packs to our first-year students. The shop will then be at the Doorfontein Campus (DFC) on 3 March, Auckland Park Bunting (APB) on 24 March, and Auckland Park Kingsway (APK) on 31 March. Remember, you can also order from the online shop any time – day or night. Just visit them to see what is available. We look forward to seeing you there!

On a different note, UJ has identified an ethical foundation as one of its four values – driven by nurturing and actively promoting an ethos of honesty, transparency, accountability and fairness across the institution. To this end, the University is reaffirming its commitment to an ethical foundation by promoting and celebrating an ethical culture through an Ethics Implementation Strategy that was approved by Management in 2019. We remind you that all UJ employees are required to complete the three ethics awareness modules, scheduled between 13 – 14 March 2023. Click here to read about this.

We express our gratitude to the Motsepe Foundation and its Founder and CEO, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, for their generous donation of R1.3 million towards our University’s Student Representative Council (SRC) led support programmes. The programmes, which are aligned with the Foundation’s work, include student debt, student mental wellness, as well as gender equality and women’s well-being. The donation recognises the important role that the SRC plays in ensuring a balance between students’ academic performance and social support. This donation will go a long way in alleviating some of the pressures placed on the University.

In the same vein, we reiterate our appreciation to those of you who have responded to our “Double of Future Impact Student 2023 Registration Campaign” to financially support the Missing Middle students to register for their degrees and diplomas. As you would recall, this is our initiative to ensure that at least 10 000 students are assisted. We have already received donations towards student support of more than R2.5 million from major donors. Donate Now!

This is the last of the three editions of the VC Newsletter in which we address you jointly as co-authors. From next week, Prof Mpedi will take over the weekly VC Newsletter. This is as we gear up to his inauguration as the new Vice-Chancellor and Principal on 10 March 2023. I wish him all the best in advance; it has been a great pleasure sharing the stage with him on various platforms and I am excited to watch his journey unfold!

Rea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ria livhuwa, thank you!

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala: Outgoing Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi: Incoming Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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

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