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Vice-Chancellor Message – 29 September 2023

Dear UJ Community,

Not so long ago, I expressed my views about university rankings and how they influence one’s decision when choosing an institution of higher learning, whether locally or abroad. The thing about university rankings is that you cannot simply make up the numbers or metrics; it is earned through a clear vision and the implementation of a well thought out strategy that seeks to improve the quality of academic programmes and research impact. And, of course, you need to invest in the strategy.

UJ soars in global rankings

To this end, I am thrilled to share with you that our university has improved its global standing in the latest results of the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, released on Wednesday, 27 September 2023. UJ is now ranked among the top 500 universities globally in the 401 – 500 band. This is an all-time high for our university! We have climbed up two bands, from the 601-800 band in which we had consistently been placed for seven years since debuting in 2016. This year, UJ is ranked #4 in South Africa and Africa.

The news come fresh on the tails of the 2023 global ranking from the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) in May, which ranked UJ among the top 3.1% of universities worldwide, at position 628 globally. These remarkable achievements demonstrate our commitment to excellence and our dedication to providing high-quality education and research. This feat would not have been possible without the commitment of our academic and support/administrative staff and our students. I thank each of you for your dedication to this pursuit of excellence! To read more about this, click here.

UJ publication highlights a wide range of innovative practices

The Division for Teaching Excellence (DTE) has published the third in the series of Teaching Innovation for the 21st Century: Showcasing UJs Teaching Innovation Projects 2022 under the leadership of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Professor Sehaam Khan. The latest edition is a compilation that illuminates the remarkable array of innovative practices spanning various academic disciplines. The publication offers a glimpse into a diverse spectrum of projects and initiatives that received funding from the UJ Teaching Innovation Fund in 2022.

It provides a platform to highlight pioneering teaching methodologies within the UJ community, driven by our unwavering commitment to fostering a robust and scholarly approach to teaching and learning. As we venture into an era marked by the rapid evolution of technologies, the publication promises to be a valuable and frequently referenced asset in the years ahead. It is a testament to UJ’s dedication to staying at the forefront of educational innovation.

Inspirations from High Tea with the VC

It was pleasing to see how many of our students were inspired by Ms Nonkululeko Gobodo, my guest for the High Tea last Friday. It was such a successful event that drew a record attendance from staff and students who absorbed the wisdom and experiences of the former Chairman and founder of SizweNtsalubaGobodo (now SNG Grant Thornton) as she shared her inspiring journey through her autobiography, Awakened to my true self. For those who missed the event, you may get a copy of the book to learn how to experience your own awakening!

Cast your vote for UJ’s new student leadership

I wish to remind our students to participate in the elections for the Student Representative Council (UJSRC), which will take place from 11 – 13 October 2023. An Independent Election Committee (IEC) conducts the election process. The voting is managed through the electronic system, which has been tested and applied for the past three years. The whole system, process and results will be audited by a professional audit firm.

For any queries or more information, students should contact the offices of the Election Committee on their respective campuses and/or Student Affairs. I encourage all students to exercise their right to choose their leadership representation by casting their votes. The more students who vote, the more legitimate the outcome or results of the elections are.

A proud moment for our football team

Last week, I shared some news about the recent successes of our various sports teams and wished our Senior Men’s Football Team all the best as they were preparing to take on Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in the FNB Varsity Football final this week. After a fiercely contested match yesterday that ended in a stalemate, our team narrowly lost 5-4 on penalties. For the team to have progressed to the finals is a great achievement, and we are immensely proud of them. I thank the technical team, our University community and everyone who supported our gents since the beginning of the tournament!

UJ Future Walk

The third UJ Future Walk will take place on Saturday, 30 September 2023. I urge our staff members, students, and surrounding communities to register in numbers to participate in this event for the public good. Please buy tickets by clicking here. Your generosity towards our bright students will go a long way in shaping the future of our society!

Beware of scammers!

In today’s digital world, characterised by the proliferation of online platforms, bogus news sites and fake news have become a menace to society. I wish to warn our University stakeholder community about scammers pretending to be UJ executives asking for money and gift vouchers. UJ executives will not ask colleagues for money and gift vouchers by email, WhatsApp or other social media platforms. If approached, please contact the UJ Ethics Hotline, which is utilised by all employees and stakeholders to report any unethical behaviour, fraud, corruption, wrong-doing, or irregularities within the university.

All reports made by employees and stakeholders are anonymous and treated with utmost confidence. The UJ Ethics Hotline Details are as follows:

Tel: 0800 872 846
Email: uj@tip-offs.com
Website: www.tip-offs.com

 

Au revoir Dr Aziz Pahad

Finally, and on a sombre note, it was with a deep sadness that I learnt of the passing of Dr Aziz Pahad, one of our liberation stalwarts. He died on Wednesday night, aged 82. Dr Pahad was more than a politician; he was arguably one of the finest ministers and diplomats to represent democratic South Africa.

As former president Thabo Mbeki once described him, he helped shape the “rich tapestry and the great legacy of SA’s transition to democracy — a reminder, especially to the younger generations, that freedom was not free!” It is an undeniable tragedy that his death comes just two months after the passing of his elder brother, Dr Essop Pahad, who died in July. I wish his family, friends and those who were inspired by him strength and courage during this difficult time. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

 

Kea 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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