Thousands of new first-year students, who have been selected to study at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), their parents and guardians as well as senior students, were welcomed by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ihron Rensburg on Friday 30 January 2015. The official Academic Opening and welcoming event took place at the University’s Soweto Campus.
The 2015 Academic Opening was an especially auspicious event as the University community celebrates 10 years since UJ’s founding. Born out of a merger in 2005 of three legacy institutions – Technikon Witwatersrand founded in 1921, Rand Afrikaanse Universiteit founded in 1968 and Vista University founded in 1979 – UJ has established a reputation of accessible excellence.
|Said Prof Rensburg during the opening; “These years have been challenging and tumultuous, yet also inspiring and triumphant. During this decade, our university has not only prevailed but profoundly flourished, and for this we are deeply grateful and encouraged.”
In 2014 the authoritative QS World University Rankings once again ranked UJ among the top 4% of some 18,000 universities in the world – and among the top 1% of universities in the BRICS countries. The URAP ranking that focus solely on research excellence and global research collaboration, places UJ among the top ten universities in Africa, with UJ improving its position from nine to eight in 2014.
The welcoming event follows a two-week orientation programme that saw thousands of first-year students attending an informative and compulsory First Year Seminar programme that oriented new students with campus life and the wide range of academic development and support services the University offers.
In 2014, the University demonstrated this commitment to support its first-time entering students from school-to-university transition and produced one of the highest number of first-year top achievers since the inception of UJ.
Prof Rensburg highlighted the University’s phenomenal success rates that currently stands at 83.2% with an overall annual graduate output of approximately 12,000 students. He also emphasised that 95% of UJ students obtain employment within 12 months of graduation, while many establish their own successful small enterprises.
The feat is mainly due to the better selection of first time entrants and the First Year Experience Programme (FYE), an initiative with intensified staff focus and greater student awareness, offering academic skills reinforcement with an accent on students mentoring fellow students.
In similar vein, UJ also introduced academic advisors in university residences and approved off-campus accommodation facilities. Under UJ’s Academic Excellence Programme, student advisors are serving first-years in 26 residences.
Prof Rensburg highlighted UJ’s vision is to be a nationally responsive University, while pursuing global excellence and stature. Prof Rensburg said; “In this regard, among our country’s leading universities, only UJ provides, in a purposeful manner, access, with success, to almost 2,500 first year students who come from our poorest communities, providing them with top-up NSFAS funding, SRC Trust Fund bursaries and two healthy meals a day that comes in at a total investment in our shared future in excess of R95M last year.”
During the address he elucidated UJ’s plans for the next ten years and added that UJ is investing an additional R600 million over the next six years in catalytic projects that are aimed at further enhancing the University’s excellent teaching and research programmes, as well establishing new flagship teaching and research programmes.