Vice-Chancellor's message to parents: End of first quarter

Posted on March 23, 2018

The first quarter is already over and the first set of exams is within sight. I wish to give you an update on our activities since the beginning of the year.

The academic year officially kicked off with Welcome Day where I was fortunate to meet some of you as part of the approximately 8 000 first year students and their families who attended the event at the Sports Campus. 

Welcome Day was preceded by the successful registration of more than 45 000 students from 52 different countries. Our community includes students from Belgium, Hong Kong, the United States, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Italy and Greece, as well as neighbouring African countries. This diversity is celebrated, as we are able to benefit from a multiplicity of experiences and perspectives across the board, and it is a strong endorsement of our commitment to quality teaching and learning.

Recently we celebrated student academic achievement when 73 new first year students were awarded the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Awards. These awards were introduced two years ago to recognise and reward excellence based on Grade 12 results.  Most of the recipients achieved an average of 90% or higher for their matric examinations, with numerous distinctions and were among the top performers in their respective provinces.

I have always believed that one of UP’s strengths is our commitment to a holistic education which gives our students opportunities to excel in art, culture, community service and sport as well as academia – as demonstrated by some of the sporting achievements detailed below. Thanks to this approach, and the dedication of our teaching staff, UP ranks in the top 100 universities worldwide for alumni outcomes and in the top 300 worldwide for employer reputation.

At the beginning of the year we also began the implementation of free higher education for students from poor households. It was announced that the state’s contribution to higher education would be increased to 1% of GDP. This, combined with the provision of R57 billion in the 2018 budget for higher education, enhances access for financially poor but academically eligible students. Students from families who earn between R350 000 and R600 000 and who apply for this funding, may receive a full bursary from government for the 2018 academic year.

I have been inspired by the achievements we’ve already recorded on our sports campus this year. At the first Varsity Athletics meet of the year, Caster Semenya broke TuksSports staff member Ilze Wicksell’s 35-year-old record of 2:37.2 in the women’s 1000m, with a winning time of 2:35.44. You might not be aware that Caster trains at UP facilities and has a strong relationship with our TuksSport High School athletes. Our own Anaso Jobodwana clocked 15.08s in the men’s 150m event – better than Justin Gatlin, the reigning 100m world champion, over the same distance.

On February 3, we also became the 2018 Varsity Cricket champions. Well done to the Assupol Tuks Cricket team for their hard work.

Through Fly@UP, our programme to support all students to graduate in minimum time, our students can keep up with their classes and be equipped with critical skills to enable success in a world where the notion of a 9 to 5 job may disappear due to technological changes and innovations. This is why we practise a hybrid model of teaching and learning that integrates the latest learning tools and technologies. We go beyond what is traditional to equip our graduates with the skills to adapt and innovate.

I wish you and your family well for the autumn and winter season.

Kind regards,

Prof Cheryl de la Rey

Vice-Chancellor and Principal



- Author Department of University Relations

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