“FLY at UP,” Vice-Chancellor Prof Tawana Kupe urges new students at 2020 Welcome Day

Posted on January 27, 2020

About 10 000 first-year students, their families and guardians braved the early morning rain on Saturday to attend the 2020 Welcome Day event at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Hillcrest Campus.

The event was a precursor to Orientation Week, which starts on Monday, 27 January. UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe told students: “I want you to know that your decision to choose UP is the best decision you’ve made for yourself and for your future. This is because UP offers the best support structures to help you succeed. We are more than a university and we take pride in and care for each of you, from today until you graduate.”

He said UP is one of the top five universities in South Africa, according to the 2019-2020 rankings by the Center for World University Rankings. It is also ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide in veterinary science, theology and law, and among the top 1% in agricultural sciences, clinical medicine, engineering, environment/ecology studies, immunology, microbiology, plant and animal sciences and social sciences. Furthermore, its students excel in a range of sporting activities.

First-year students and their families enjoy proceedings on Welcome Day.

The majority of UP’s lecturers are experts with PhDs and the University is the largest producer of research in South Africa. “This helps us to provide a very high quality of education for our students. But more important than this is how we use this knowledge to uplift society and give back from our skills and knowledge.”

He said attendance of Orientation Week was imperative for students who will be “brought up to speed and ready to go when the academic year opens.”

“Remember to download the UP app before classes start!” he said.

Prof Kupe cautioned students about walking and texting simultaneously, to the amusement of the audience. “When you’re walking, please look up from your mobile phones every once in a while to see whether you’re about to trip or walk into a pillar. We’re trying to give you the best quality education so that you become a creative and well-rounded graduate. But sometimes I look around campus and see everyone transfixed on their phones and I hope they’re not an accident waiting to happen.”

He urged students to graduate in the minimum time for their degrees by embracing the FLY@UP campaign. “FLY stands for the Finish Line is Yours. Plan and manage your time and deadlines well.  Spend a few minutes every day reading your class notes on the topic for discussion … before your class. In class, engage with lecturers and fellow students and learn even more. After class, reflect on what you’ve learnt, go over your notes and complete all your assignments and tests on time.”

There are additional resources and support online to supplement what students have learnt in class. “If you follow this formula, you will manage to keep a good semester mark and this will help you to graduate on time. This formula has worked so well for so many students that we’re proud to have an 82% pass rate for our exams.”

The Vice-Chancellor encouraged students to adopt THE UP WAY, which entails being innovative, creative and critical thinkers who are an asset to society.

Isak van der Walt, Digital Scholarship & MakerSpace Centre Manager, introduces Libby the robotic librarian assistant​ to the audience.

He said 93% of UP students are employed or furthering their studies within six months of graduating from UP. The Career Services office provides a free online programme called “Ready for Work”, which gives students the workplace skills they need to access the job market. “You can also learn to start your own business with our entrepreneurship course.”

UP SRC President David Kabwa appealed to students to do their best. “Let us not be held back by the fear of the unknown, let us move forward.”

During the ceremony, the audience was introduced to UP’s newest and smallest staff member, Libby the robotic librarian assistant. She is the first of her kind known to be employed in any university library in Africa and is part of UP’s Department of Library Services’ drive to become a 21st century service centre. She endeared herself to the audience by rattling off facts about UP. 

Hritika Maharaj (18) from Durban is studying BSc Biological Sciences this year and hopes to switch to medicine next year. “I chose UP because of its high quality of education,” she said. Her mother, Monica, said, “Kids who choose UP do well. Everybody wants the best for their kids, so we chose UP.”

Nomathamsanqa Mahlangu (17) from Mpumalanga is studying education at UP as she wants to become a teacher. “UP is rated as one of the best universities in South Africa. I think UP is a good institution and I am very excited to be here,” she said.

The Campus was a hive of activity, with Professor of Plant Pathology Lise Korsten and her students promoting healthy foods for bright minds in the Healthy Living THE UP WAY campaign with fruit giveaways, while a student band entertained the crowd.

- Author Prim Gower

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences