UP hosts in-person Welcome Day for the first time in two years with hi-tech reception

Posted on February 23, 2023

For the first time in two years, the University of Pretoria (UP) hosted Welcome Day in-person (and online) on 11 February after the event was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Welcome Day is one of the most important days on the University’s academic calendar; it’s the day UP formally welcomes first-year students and their parents or guardians into the UP community.

The day began with student registration from 08:00 in the Rembrandt Hall, Hillcrest Campus, followed by the formal proceedings where Professor Tawana Kupe, UP’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, affirmed that the new cohort of first-years, 8 500 in total, were at the right place and have made the right choice.

Joining Prof Kupe in extending a welcome to the first-years and their families were two special 21st-century guests, Libby and smWoef, UP’s robot staff members. Libby is the first client service robot at any university library in Africa, and works in Library Services at UP. SmWoef is UP’s robotic dog.

Prof Kupe told students that Libby could help direct them to where they needed to go in the library, and she can also help them smile if one is feeling anxious, as she sings, dances, plays music and even cracks a joke or two.

“Our students love her, and one even proposed to her, but she turned him down, politely explaining he’s not her type,” joked Prof Kupe.

Prof Kupe told students that Libby and SmWoef were an integral part of the future-oriented university that UP is, enabled by the quality of the programmes offered at one of the leading research-intensive universities in the country and on the continent.  

“By the time you graduate, so many new professions will be available to you, and, as UP graduates, you will be highly sought after, highly employable and enjoy great success in the careers you choose.”

He explained that UP’s graduate survey reveals that 93% of UP students are either employed within six months of graduating or continue their studies.

“Our undergraduate students achieved a pass rate of over 85% in 2022. This bodes extremely well for you, our 8 500 first-year students who have chosen UP. You have made the best decision for your future and you are set to become part of the University of Pretoria’s lineage of successful graduates,” he said.

Prof Kupe said that as first-years, they would join a community of more than 56 000 students, of which about 4 000 are international students from 36 countries. He said a phenomenal 70% of UP lecturers have doctoral degrees and the number increases yearly.

“The whole of UP is widely recognised as a leader in quality education. As one of South Africa’s top five universities, we are ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide in 13 fields.”

In addition, the University has a presence among the top 1.9% of universities and is in the top 100 universities worldwide in veterinary science, theology, and law according to the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Prof Kupe told the new students that as part of their orientation, they would have the opportunity to meet UP’s leadership team, view UP’s campuses — virtually and in person — and be given information on their chosen faculties, how to select modules and get the best results.

The 2023 Academic Orientation Week will be presented from 13 to 17 February 2023 in hybrid form; most activities will be hosted face-to-face on campus and some online. Prof Kupe urged students to attend the programme as it has all the information they need to succeed and enjoy campus life.

Njabulo Sibeko, SRC President, also urged the first-years to make the most of campus life: “I encourage you all to diversify your friend group and hang with someone you would have never hung with. Do something you have never done in high school. This will help ensure that you have a colorful varsity experience that lacks nothing.”

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