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VC's Message - 20 October 2017

Publishing Date: 10/20/2017 9:00 AM

Dear Staff and Students

The University continues to make excellent progress in various world university rankings, with the latest being the 2018 Times Higher Education (THE) Subject Ranking in Engineering and Technology released on Tuesday, 17 October. I am delighted by the news that UJ is now ranked in the Top 500 globally in this subject area. The specific subjects contributing to this subject ranking in Engineering and Technology are: Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Civil Engineering; Chemical Engineering and General Engineering. This debut entry marks an important milestone for UJ, adding to the list of our University’s ranking accolades. Four other South African universities - the University of Cape Town; the University of Witwatersrand; the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch University -  were also ranked and appear in the same 401- 500 ranking bracket. When actual scores are calculated, it would appear that UJ and UCT are running neck-and-neck at the top of the national ranking in this subject area. My warmest congratulations go to the staff, HoDs, Vice Deans, and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Professor Saurabh Sinha.

I would like to congratulate Professor Soebur Razzaque and his research team in the Physics Department on their contributions to an international astronomical event of note. For the first time, a collision of a pair of neutron stars has been observed in gravitational waves and simultaneously in gamma rays. This extraordinary event also sheds new light on the origin of heavy elements such as gold and platinum. I wish Prof Razzaque and his team all the very best and know that their research in Gamma-Ray Burst and Gravitational Waves will inform the scientific community across the globe and have an impact.

Our third year Civil and Electrical Engineering and Environmental Management students have done extremely well at the Concrete Society of Southern Africa’s concrete boat race held on Saturday, last week. The Project Management group of students, led by Senior Lecturer Mr Deon Kruger, enrolled 30 boats and came out tops against teams from the University of Pretoria in both the student race and construction categories. The objective of this year’s project was to build a high-tech and environmentally friendly concrete Makorro, a traditional African canoe for use in the Botswana Okavango Delta. Mr Kruger also won the prize for the most participative and supportive lecturer in the competition. Congratulations to our students and Mr Kruger for these outstanding achievements.

This week, the University, in partnership with the Brixton SAPS, has embarked on a weeklong Crime Prevention Campaign. The campaign, amongst other things, created awareness on how to go about reporting potential criminal actions and police emergencies. Students were encouraged to be ‘street smart’, to plan their routes in advance, and to be alert. Safety tips and other security measures to guard against theft have also been communicated. This follows the Safe Routes protection plan the University introduced a few months ago. Although the campaign ends today, it is an ongoing exercise as we must continue to ensure that our UJ community and environs are safe and secure. I trust that you will continue to remain alert and vigilant on and off-campus.

UJ’s Information and Communication Systems (ICS) Division has partnered with Vodacom to provide our students with zero-rated data charges. Any registered UJ student on the Vodacom network is now able to access UJ students’ sites, off-campus and free of charge.  It is encouraging to see the extraordinary goodwill that business and industry have shown to the University and its students and I look forward to further partnerships with other mobile network service providers for similar benefits for our students.

On Friday, 27 October, the Operations Division, in partnership with Student Affairs, the Interim Student Representative Council, RAG and Community Engagement, will be launching a Cleaning Campaign on our four campuses. The campaign takes off simultaneously at the four campuses starting at the residences at 10:00 am and will proceed to the Student Centres by 12:00 pm. The Operations Division will provide refuse bags, gloves, water and masks. Specified routes will be communicated to volunteers at each campus. We invite all the staff and students to participate in this great initiative.

As we move towards the conclusion of the 2017 academic programme, there has been a palpable sense of excitement. The end of the academic programme is a great achievement for our students, and the academic and support staff who have worked with such intense focus and determination throughout the year.

Our year-end examinations will commence following the revision break starting on the 4th of November. As you, our students prepare for the examinations, I encourage you to remain focused and with commitment to ensure success in your academic endeavours. The Library has extended its hours and will now be open on Saturdays from 07:30 until 18:00. These hours apply to the Saturdays of the 4th, the 11th, the 18th and the 25th of November. Additionally, the following study areas will be available from the 4th to the 28th of November: APB: F-Purple 05 and 07 and K-Block; DFC: Lwazi 102 to 106 and G01 to 08; APK: A-Les G01 and G02, and SWC: A32, A5 and A7.

The year-end exam season can contribute to pressure and anxiety. I once more call on all our students to be aware that the University has in place a full range of support services to enable you to achieve your academic goals, should you feel overwhelmed or anxious, please do not hesitate to make use of these services.

Postgraduate studies can be daunting. To this end, the Library and Information Centre will be offering postgraduate training at the Soweto and the Doornfontein campuses in November. These training sessions will provide our postgraduate students with the necessary skills on researching and writing a literature review, how to access and print e-books as well as deal with intellectual property issues. The training sessions will take place on the 8th and 22nd of November at the Soweto Campus, and on the 9th and the 21st of November at the Doornfontein Campus.

I would like to commend our staff and students for celebrating Diversity Week across our campuses this week. The activities are intended to stimulate and invigorate our campuses and move us to a more inclusive culture. I would like to thank you for your participation in the activities.

Lastly, I wish all those who celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, happiness, joy and prosperity. May you and your loved ones enjoy this blessed occasion. The Festival symbolises hope, renewal and celebration, marked by delicious food, bright lamps and festivities.

Have a good weekend.

With best wishes,

Professor Angina Parekh

Acting Vice-Chancellor

University of Johannesburg