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VC Message - 14 September 2018


Publishing Date: 9/14/2018 9:45 AM

Dear Staff and Students

The University has been on recess this week, but I thought it was important to share with you some of the highlights of the last few days. But firstly, I would like to acknowledge the 41st anniversary of the death of Steve Bantu Biko, one of our foremost liberation heroes. Biko taught us that "it is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die". Secondly, Biko taught us the importance of literary freedom; that we should not just write but that we should write what we like. As a University, we continue to draw inspiration from his ideals.

I am delighted by the news that our University has retained its position among the best universities in the world for graduate employability, according to the latest 2019 QS Graduate Employability Rankings. UJ has been placed in the 301-500 rank range of global universities for the second consecutive year, and placed in joint third position nationally alongside Stellenbosch University (SU), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the University of Pretoria (UP).

This 2019 Rankings edition, published on Tuesday, 11 September 2018, evaluated more than 650 institutions and published 500, with 41 new entries. The rankings are based on five key aspects of graduate employability, namely; 'Employer Reputation', 'Alumni Outcomes', 'Employer Partnerships', 'Employer-Student Connections', and 'Graduate Employment Rate'.

In total, six South African universities were ranked. We strive to move up these rankings each year; and the fact that we are ranked in this band means we are doing well worldwide. Congratulations to our University community for maintaining a good reputation!

This week, various business and institutional leaders from across the globe as well as some Small and Medium Enterprise owners converged in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, to engage on Information and Communication Technology solutions. The conference agenda focused on how the business, private and public ICT sectors, including our government, can help improve lives through innovative ideas and solutions as we sail with the rest of the world in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

At the conference, I was part of the panel and also shared my expertise with the media on artificial intelligence, particularly the use of technology to enhance socio-economic inclusion and relations between people. The conference – the first to be held in Africa – was attended by about 7000 delegates. I hope that those of you who watched the news on television and some online interviews have seen how important this conversation is for our country and the African continent. I was joined by Prof Babu Paul and Mrs Karen Coetzee in the launch of the African Fourth Industrial Revolution Centre. UJ will be playing a pivotal role in this Centre.

Also this week, our University hosted a book discussion on the legacy of political stalwart Dr Mohamed 'Chota' Motala in our Library. The book, Chota Motala: A Biography of Political Activism in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, written by Prof Goolam Vahed, examines the life of anti-apartheid icon Dr Motala's (1921-2005) intellectual project and activism from his early years through to his role as an ambassador in the new South Africa.

Mr Mavuso Msimang, the African National Congress (ANC) veteran and Chairman of Corruption Watch; together with Mr Mosie Moolla, former Treason trialist and South African activist and diplomat; and Ms Elinor Sisulu, the Executive Director: Puku Children's Literature Foundation, also provided their insights on the life of Motala. The discussion was hosted in partnership with the University's Faculty of Humanities, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Rabia Motala family. I hope that those who attended the discussion drew inspiration and courage from Motala's selfless service to our nation.

The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) concluded its four-part conversation series on Work and the Future with Perspectives from Higher Education on Wednesday, 12 September 2018. These have been thought-provoking discussions. As we all know, the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to change the world of work. It requires us and every sector of society to adapt and embrace these developments. Well done to Prof Peter Vale, Director: JIAS, and Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, Deputy Director: JIAS, for these important conversations.

Next week, the University kick-starts the 2018 Diversity Week programme with the cast of Lockdown, a television drama on Mzansi Magic DStv channel 161. The drama series interrogates some of the challenging societal issues that occur in the public sphere and within the South African prison gates relating to mental health, social inclusion and wellbeing, among other issues. With the hope that we can all contribute to the solutions to building a healthy and caring society, the cast will engage both our staff and students on these particular matters.

Also next week, I will be going to China to attend a World Economic Forum (WEF) engagement. At this assembly, I am scheduled to meet the Executive Chairman of WEF, Klaus Schwab. I will be talking to him about the establishment of the WEF Centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I will then go to Singapore to attend the Times Higher Education conference, where I am scheduled to speak. During my absence, Prof Angina Parekh will act as Vice-Chancellor.

Lastly, the University's academic calendar resumes on Monday, 17 September 2018. I wish you all, staff and students, the very best as you tackle the last term of the year. To our students, please give this term your best – you are inches away from attaining your dreams! I again urge our students and staff members who might experience challenging personal experiences, emotionally and otherwise, to use our wellness programmes, which offer counselling services. To all the staff members, thank you for your incredible work in ensuring that our academic journey transpired flawlessly over the last three quarters of 2018!

Enjoy your weekend!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg