The University of Pretoria and Hyundai to reward dedicated first-year students

Posted on February 11, 2011

Other prizes, such as laptops, printers and iPods, will also be handed out at the ceremony at 12:30 on the Piazza of the Student Centre at UP’s Hatfield Campus. Members of the media are cordially invited to attend.

Statistics show that approximately 18% of first-year students at UP did not complete their first year of study in 2009. Even though this throughput rate far exceeds national and international benchmarks, the need to better prepare students academically has been one of the key focus points of UP’s Steering Committee for Student Access and Success, headed by the Vice-Principal: Teaching and Learning, Prof Nthabiseng Ogude.

With this goal in mind, members of the committee focused anew on the orientation of first-year students and tried to identify ways in which to improve upon it. Historically, orientation was seen as an administrative week mainly for registration, combined with traditional University events and programmes, such as Rag and events in the residences.

Another key point taken into consideration was the fact that not only academic reasons lead to drop-out, but that the University need to further enhance the support it gives in terms of life skills.

In the subsequent proposal to change the orientation process at UP, it was suggested that the academic year for 2011 begins later. The rationale was mainly based on the implementation of a new enterprise system for student administration and, most importantly, the need to better prepare students academically. The advantage of classes starting only on 14 February is the fact that events such as Rag would have been concluded.

A new orientation programme was designed over several months by academic and administration staff and was approved by the Executive of Senate in August 2010. The programme runs for two weeks, compared to one week in the past. New academic sessions were introduced per faculty and sessions on emotional intelligence, motivation, financial readiness and organised student life were also included.

In an attempt to eliminate the perception that orientation programmes such as these are a waste of time, UP launched the programme with the brand name of A2S@UP (Adventure to Success @ UP).

An incentive was also given – any student who attended all the orientation sessions will stand a chance to win an i10 1.1 motor, sponsored by Hyundai, or smaller prizes like laptops, printers and iPods. Apart from drawing huge crowds to orientation sessions, these prizes will of course assist winning students on their own road to success.

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