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Vice-Chancellor Message – 2023 Academic Year Reflections

Dear UJ community,

With the festive season almost upon us, I thought I should take some time to reflect on what has been a momentous year for our university, marked by great change and excitement. You would recall that I officially took the helm of this great university at a time when we had changes at the top leadership level.

The changes were highlighted by no less than the positions of Chancellor and Chair of Council. As in any organisation when such changes occur, there were some anxieties. Adding to the challenge was a myriad of external factors, such as the relentless electricity and water outages as well as the geopolitical tensions which compounded the sluggish economic growth in our country.

All of these made the task daunting, as we needed to review our strategies to ensure that our university’s operations continued smoothly. However, and in keeping with our resolve of reimagining the future, we managed to sail through these uncharted waters. Through our innovative thinking and robust strategy, we managed to address most of these challenges.

Building on the gains of the previous years, we have consolidated our Global Excellence and Stature catalytic initiative, otherwise known as GES4.0. I have been impressed by the manner and extent to which we have infused societal impact into our teaching and learning and research. We have in the process increased our global footprint on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is affirmed by our improvements across various global university ranking systems.

Just to reiterate, UJ is now the top producer of research outputs in South Africa, ranked at number 1 in the SDGs’ global goal of No Poverty, according to the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. No Poverty focuses on universities’ research on poverty and their support for poor students and citizens in their local communities. We have also recorded improvements in other various world rankings, such as the Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR), and the Shanghai Rankings.

Nationally, UJ now the top producer of research output, according to the Department of Higher Education. You can visit our website, www.news.uj.ac.za, to read more about these milestones. These research metrics and rankings have affirmed that we are indeed on the right path and that UJ’s future looks to burn even brighter.

2023 was also a memorable year for UJ on the sport front. Our student-athletes won big in various global and national competitions. Lest we forget, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) has certified UJ as a healthy campus institution. This is quite a feat, considering that our University is among the top 40 certified universities out of 92 participating institutions.

All these successes are a demonstration that when we work collectively, united in purpose and focused, we can achieve more. Of course, as we continue in our endeavours to increase our global footprint, we will ensure that the wellbeing of our students and staff is at the centre of what we do.

Once again, I would like to say a very big thank you to our staff and students and the entire UJ community stakeholders – your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated! I wish you a safe and merry festive season and prosperous new year. Till we meet again, take care!

You can watch this message below:

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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