As the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, it gives me great pleasure to welcome all you new first year students and your parents, guardians and family members to the University of Pretoria. A special word of welcome to parents and family members who are part of our alumni network. A special word of welcome to all first generation students in the family to come to University.
This is a special occasion for me for two reasons, not only do I get to welcome you to this magnificent institution, but it also marks my first major address as the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria. As the 2019 cohort, you and I begin our University of Pretoria journey together!
Congratulations again for performing well and being admitted to the University of Pretoria. Thank you for choosing UP. Many of you achieved high Matric scores and the top achievers could have gone to other leading universities.
We have attracted many top achievers in 2019 who include three top individuals - Mr David Dodkins (also number 2 in Gauteng Province) and Mr Jarrod Staples who scored an average with 97% in the NSC and Ms Yashoda Maharaj who scored 96.33 % in the IEB examinations.
Many of you come from diverse communities which is a good thing because at UP we value diversity, we are diversifying in multiple ways and becoming more inclusive. You, the first years of 2019 are a diverse and exceptional group. We at UP are therefore becoming a truly South Africa, African and international community pursuing knowledge that serves humanity.
It is important that you focus on passing and getting your degree and finishing in time. To this end, the leadership team and I intend to intensify the momentum in our initiatives to ensure all our students finish their degrees on time. So, we have an initiative called '[email protected] the finish line is yours'. This initiative is meant to ensure that students complete their degrees on time. We will support you to graduate in the minimum time.
In addition to guiding you to complete your qualifications, by providing high-quality and relevant education across our faculties we also work to ensure your success when you enter the world of work or become entrepreneurs. What has come to be known as The 4th Industrial Revolution which is powered by digital technologies is rapidly changing the world of work. At UP we will provide you an education that prepares you for the future world of work. The Ready for Work programme started already in 2016. Overall, the University of Pretoria supports students to be fully prepared for their choices in the world of work and innovation.
We will give you a quality education that will enable you enable them to realise your full potential in life. You will graduate from this university with hope, optimism and attain satisfaction in your life. You will be are inspired to become an agent of change to build a successful socially cohesive South African society and a prosperous African continent.
Let me say a few things about the University you are joining:
UP is a top highly ranked research intensive university, well known for excellent teaching and high quality programmes which lead to good well-paying jobs. The employability of our graduates is never in doubt and we score well over 90% in employability assessments.
We pursue research that matters by making a positive impact on people’s lives and solving complex and societal problems and challenges in South Africa and Africa.
UP students are also engaged in over 4000 community projects that a difference to people’s lives and add value and demonstrate our relevance and responsiveness. It also demonstrates our ability to give back for the privileges we get from society.
Over the years the University of Pretoria has attracted students from all around the world from 75 countries.
The University of Pretoria is recognised as a leading university in Africa and our international stature and reputation has been rising year on year.
As you embark on this life changing journey, you must also be aware that student life is filled with new freedoms and opportunities. During your time as university students you will meet new people, many who are quite different from you but are fellow human beings. It is a time when you will be challenged in many ways. Use the experience to learn and develop as a person. Yes you will may also fall in and out of love and you may even find your life partner in/outside the halls of learning. This all forms an important part of a university journey.
So although your priority is first and foremost focusing on your studies, there is also the social and fun side. With over 100 student clubs and societies, you may sign up for a new sport or hobby and discover your talents. This enriches your student life and experience.
Over and above the arts the University is well known for the prowess of our sportsmen and women. Five of the Proteas are members of the Tuks Cricket Club. We are the reigning Varsity Cup Rugby Champions. I encourage you all to support the seasons games.
This is the beginning of an exciting time in your lives, and for many of you it will be the first time away from home. The University of Pretoria values your personal safety and rights. We have security and safety measures in place for your own protection. Through a partnership with the City of Tshwane and the businesses in our neighbourhood, there are police on patrols and your safety is their priority. We request that in addition to this you exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings and environment. If you experience harassment, are made to feel uncomfortable or if you notice any unethical or illegal behaviour, activities or harassment you should report it to our security services or our hotline. Furthermore, discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.
In a nutshell, it is important that you, as first-year, embraces the opportunities of varsity life but also understands the challenges of this new chapter:
- The work load is significantly higher
- The content is more complex than anything you encountered at school
- Time management is critical
- Talent and ability are not enough – a strong work ethic is essential
- Focus on your studies. The rest is also important but secondary
- Learn how to manage your money
- Be safe: look after your person and property, also outside the campus and on the roads – there are many pedestrian and vehicle accidents
We also encourage you to make use of the various forms of professional support available on the campus or within the vicinity:
- academic and study support, including study methods and time management programmes
- health services
- emotional support, including stress management
- spiritual nurturing
Finally, we also encourage you to use your voice constructively.
- speak out when you see your “buddies” not coping – in your faculty, in your residence, in your student structures
- speak out when you see something that is not right
In addition, we urge you to be responsible and active citizens: resources in higher education are under pressure - this is your campus, keep it clean, save water and electricity, recycle, help others.
In a few years’ time, we hope to see you back in this hall to celebrate your graduation. Thank you for choosing UP! Make your time with us matter!
Parents, guardians and family members - thank you for your presence today as it is important that you stay involved in the lives of your loved ones. I strongly encourage you to keep track of their academic progress and general well-being. You are welcome to contact us if you have any concerns or queries. You are now part of our diverse, intellectually vibrant and dynamic UP community.
Thank you for your time!
Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of University of Pretoria