UJ opens Zimbabwe alumni chapter


UJ is well represented in Zimbabwe’s student population, graduating an average of 973 Zimbabwe students per year and embracing Zimbabweans in its bursary and scholarship initiatives, the new Zimbabwe alumni chapter heard at its launch on 27 May 2022.

The event was a hybrid one, both online and in-person, held at the Holiday Inn in Harare, with several Zimbabwe-based UJ alumni attending. It was opened by Prof Ylva Rodny-Gumede, senior director of Internationalisation, and the welcoming address was delivered by Dr Trust Mhubu, illustrious alumnus and chapter convenor.

Prof Tumi Diale, president of Convocation and vice dean of Teaching and Learning/associate professor and educational psychologist, and Nell Ledwaba, senior manager of alumni relations, also addressed the chapter.

Mzwekhe Matukane, UJs senior director for revenue administration, said one of UJs proudest initiatives is the R150 million awarded in student bursaries for both South Africans and international students, including Zimbabwean students.

Also, as of 2016 UJ launched a “missing middle” initiative to reach students who are “too rich for government aid but too poor for commercial students loans”, said Matukane. “We took R20 million from the operating budget, assisting 5 000 students with their registration fees. We then went out to corporates, trusts, foundations and high-net individuals to assist these students and managed to raise R1.5 billion for scholarships, donations and for research,” he said.

Almost 70% of this money went to bursaries, tuition and living fees. “A total of 13 900 students have been assisted, including international students,” he said. In addition, UJ runs a meal-assistance programme, as almost 30% of students are food insecure. “When a student loses focus, academic performance is affected. We provide meal packs on a bi-weekly basis to both local and international students,” said Matukane.

He said UJ was particularly proud of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) research, including its independently-built app to despatch emergency vehicles to locations timeously, and Spot, the AI dog. These initiatives were designed to positively impact the lives of people on the continent. “It is possible for our continent to get there. We’ve only scratched the surface of lives we can change,” said Matukane.

UJ executive dean of the College of Business & Economics, Prof Daneel van Lill, said that since 2017, UJ has graduated 39 students per African country per year, but in Zimbabwe, the number is 973 per year.

“It is a pleasure to have Zimbabwean students in my class. Your greatest source of capital is your intellect,” he said.

May 27, 2022
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