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VC's Message - 08 September 2017

Publishing Date: 9/8/2017 12:00 AM

Dear Staff and Students

This week saw the release of the latest 2018 edition of the highly regarded Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. I am heartened by the news that UJ has, in its second showing in this ranking, retained its global spot in the 601-800 rank band and remains firm at fifth position in South Africa. THE evaluates universities on 13 performance metrics grouped into the five broad categories of Teaching, Research, Citations, International Outlook, and Industry Income. UJ improved significantly on last year’s scores in all five categories - most notably in Citations with an increase of 12.8 points, which translates into a remarkable 54.5% improvement. In the Research category, UJ saw an increase of 5.1 points, which is a 27.7% improvement. Of the eight SA universities that have been ranked by THE, only three improved on the positions they achieved last year and five dropped. I’m happy to report that UJ was amongst the three that made positive gains, and in fact moved up faster (by 87 places) than any of the others. For the continent, THE ranked 22 universities in Africa within its global total of 1,000, and UJ is among the top seven of these. This result demonstrates, once again, that UJ is asserting its well-earned place among top research counterparts.

Our award-winning UJ Choir, under the guidance of renowned Choirmaster, Renette Bouwer, will participate in the annual Kuesta University Choir Festival on 8 and 9 September. Kuesta is an integral part of the South African Choral community and ensures the continued development of the South African university choral music culture. The Festival will feature world-class performances by four South African University choirs –Universities of Johannesburg, North West, Stellenbosch, and Nelson Mandela University. After the Festival, the UJ Choir will embark on a tour, performing in Knysna on the 12th, Bloemfontein on the 14th, Potchefstroom on the 16th, and Lichtenburg on the 17th September. It is heartening indeed to know that our Choir’s artistic excellence will be shared with the nation.

Five Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) students have been announced as finalists in the first pan-African architecture awards. The students took five out of the twenty shortlisted places. Together with Prof Lesley Lokko, Chairperson of the Awards Steering Panel, they will be flown to Cape Town on 26 September where the winners in each of the four categories will be announced. The ceremony will take place at the newly-opened Zeitz MOCA museum on the 29th of September. We wish them all the best.

On Wednesday, this week, food stylist, chef and author, Anna Trapido, met with our students at an event during which they created edible cakes inspired by a piece of literature.  The interaction formed part of the Edible Book Festival, hosted by the School of Tourism and Hospitality in partnership with the Library. Congratulations to all the winners in the various categories.

  Wednesday also marked National Secretaries Day. We took this occasion to thank our secretaries, receptionists and other administrative support professionals for their sterling contribution to the University. Facilitator and executive life coach, Felicity Hart, engaged with a group of our administrative staff, taking them on a ‘journey’ in which they explored the benefits of managing and reducing stress; how to respond positively to problems; and how to improve concentration through awareness. I believe participants found the engagement thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you all for your continued commitment.

Please join me in congratulating the Director and staff of the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems (SCiiS) on having received the 2017 BlueMagnet Commitment to Digital Empowerment Award. This industry-based award recognises the Department of Marketing Management’s dedication to advancing the skills of its staff and ensuring their awareness of latest developments in the field of Digital Marketing. The Digital Marketing Institute, located in Ireland, sets the global standard in digital marketing and selling, and has certified more than 20 000 professionals across 80 countries.

Allow me also to congratulate Prof Yanxia Sun, the Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Science, on her selection as a member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).  Prof Sun will be inaugurated into SAYAS on 11 October. The membership is highly competitive – only a small number of new members are inducted each year. Well done!

The Division for Institutional Planning, Evaluation and Monitoring is currently conducting an annual Undergraduate Student Experience Survey to establish the level of satisfaction of our undergraduate students regarding the quality of their teaching and learning experience at UJ. I would like to ask all our undergraduate students to complete this questionnaire. The survey will take about 25 minutes to complete. Your input will assist the University in designing and implementing tailor-made strategies to further enhance and improve your learning experience. A summary of the findings will be made available to students. Please visit the link to complete the survey:

It should be noted the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training – also known as the Fees Commission – has concluded its work. Last week, the Chairperson of the Commission, Judge Jonathan Heher, presented the Commission’s final report to President Jacob Zuma, who will now study the report and its recommendations.  The Presidency will also make available the report to the public in due course. While we wait the President’s pronouncements on the matter of fee free higher education, UJ will continue to seek ways of further expanding financial and other essential support to our most vulnerable students.

Today sees the start of the mid-semester break. I wish our students and academics a peaceful recess and encourage you to return revitalised. A special word of thanks also to the colleagues who will remain at work on all of our campuses during the recess as they continue, behind the scenes, to maintain the integrity and momentum of the University.

With best wishes,

Professor Angina Parekh

Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg