UP’s first-ever Virtual #ChooseUP Day a success; about 10 000 grade 12 learners tour campuses virtually

Posted on August 17, 2020

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) first-ever Virtual #ChooseUP Day was successfully held on Saturday 15 August. This exciting event saw approximately 10 000 grade 12 learners and their parents/guardians visit UP’s campuses virtually.

#ChooseUP Day takes place annually in August to introduce UP, its staff, campuses, faculties and student services to grade 12 learners who’ve received conditional admission offers subject to their matric/school-leaving results. This year’s Virtual #ChooseUP Day was transformed into an online event due to the lockdown stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and is believed to be the first of its kind for a tertiary institution in South Africa. It was hosted on UP’s Virtual Campus, an online platform that allows visitors the opportunity to explore the University’s facilities and campus life through a combination of 360-degree panoramas and videos, as well as course-related information.

A live-streaming session was held during which Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe, Student Representative Council (SRC) President David Kabwa and faculty deans addressed visitors. The session was moderated by political commentator, senior lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at UP and UP alumnus Dr Sithembile Mbete.

Speaking at the event, Prof Kupe said despite the challenging circumstances created by the pandemic, the University is committed to going above and beyond for its students. “These are very uncertain and difficult times. But as you can see, at UP, nothing can stop us. You are sitting at home, we’re on campus, but we have ensured that we are together. We are grateful to all of you that are interested in UP as a top-quality institution,” he said.

He added that receiving an education at UP would stand students in good stead in the future.

“We create knowledge as an institution. It is knowledge that makes the difference between unsuccessful people, unsuccessful societies and unsuccessful businesses. And those that are successful thrive and create value in life. We produce graduates that drive our economy, drive our society, and also drive their own communities. We believe in developing people and making a difference so that when they leave our campuses they can get that lucrative job that makes a difference to themselves, their families and in society.”

Kabwa echoed the Vice-Chancellor’s sentiments, reminding prospective students that their choice of institution would have a major impact on their lives. “The university that you choose will shape your life, your career and your destiny. Even in the age of the unexpected, there you still have the choice. At the University of Pretoria you are enabled with the choice to develop yourself academically, to develop your talents, and develop into an active citizen,” Kabwa said.

One such prospective student is 18-year-old Cara Jordaan from Pretoria, who said she is looking forward to studying BCom (Accounting Sciences) at UP next year, because of the calibre of staff teaching the course, which falls under the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. “I like the course because I am interested in Economics and Business. At UP’s Virtual #ChooseUP Day, I learnt that they have the best rankings in South Africa, and a 94% pass rate, which is pretty extraordinary. I also know that the lecturers at UP are qualified, and with this course you are almost guaranteed to get a job after you complete your studies. That’s what attracted me to UP’s CA programme,” Jordaan said.

She added that she had thoroughly enjoyed the Virtual #ChooseUP Day, and was looking forward to exploring the Virtual Campus functionality a little more. “I think the effort that went into it, and the whole live-stream, was creative and enriching. UP went the extra mile, and everything was exciting including the Virtual Campus!”

Prospective Architecture student Jabulani Zuma (19) from Soweto said he was excited to join the UP family next year. “I applied at the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT (EBIT) and the Virtual #ChooseUP Day gave me the opportunity to get more information about the faculty and my course. It was really helpful. I am definitely looking forward to coming to UP next year. It was the first university I applied at.”

Nokuphila Moatshe, 17, from Randburg, also said a big highlight for her of the Virtual #ChooseUP Day was learning more about the Faculty of Health Sciences, which she hopes to study at next year. “I was more interested in seeing what the campus looks like, and the residences. I went to the faculty pages, and I managed to get more information.”

The Virtual #ChooseUP Day experience was tailored and personalised for each conditionally admitted UP student. Their invitation contained links to all the interests they indicated on their RSVP to the event. They were able to take virtual tours of UP’s nine faculties spread over seven campuses, get advice on alternate admissions, accommodation, how to choose their modules, and what they would need to do to become successful students.

The Virtual Campus platform contains more than 50 new videos which specifically address questions frequently asked by visitors on #ChooseUP Day, and additional panoramas have been added to the more than 120 panoramas already on the platform. Via more than 800 photographs, students received information on student support services available and gained insight into campus sport, arts and culture, UP ethos and vibe, and what it means to live THE UP WAY. This ethos entails being kind and excellent in everything the UP community does.

At the end of the live morning session, there were 12 900 playbacks of the different videos on the Virtual Campus platform. During the live session there were three UP-branded hampers that were won by viewers, as well as seven study bursaries specifically for the conditionally accepted students, to the total value of R140 000. (7x R20 000)

Closing off the live virtual event, Professor Kupe said the Virtual #ChooseUP Day showcased the complementary nature of online and contact sessions. “It demonstrates again that using online and using contact are not polar opposites; they are complementary. That’s the fourth industrial revolution and Society 5.0 at work. UP is in the future, future-oriented, and future-focused. And really, there is no excuse to not #ChooseUP,” he said.

- Author Masego Panyane

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