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VC Message - 28 September 2018


Publishing Date: 9/28/2018 9:30 AM

Dear Staff and Students

I am delighted to announce that our University has yet again been recognised by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings in its 2019 edition, released on Wednesday, 26 September 2018. The rankings place UJ among the world's best universities in the 601–800 rank band again, for the third year running. This ranking also sees UJ in fifth position in South Africa behind the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The University has invested heavily in the teaching and learning domain to make it possible for students from even the poorest backgrounds and schools to excel academically. Therefore, we are very proud to be recognised in this rank band – but of course we aim to move up in the future. Please accept my congratulations to the entire University community!

The other exciting news for our University is that two of our academics have been named among the recipients of the 2018 National Research Foundation (NRF) top honours awards in the science and research field. Prof Jan Dirk Kramers from the Department of Geology and Prof Anthony Onwuegbuzie, a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Education were among the recipients announced at the NRF awards ceremony at the Boardwalk Hotel & Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, 26 September 2018.

The recipients are top researchers in South Africa and rated by the NRF, and the awards celebrate their research in their respective fields, based on peer evaluation and according to international best practice. The awards are also aimed at inspiring and encouraging the continued culture of advancing South Africa's knowledge economy and technological innovativeness by rewarding those that make use of research for the advancement of humanity.

Almost simultaneously as our academics were recognised, the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) also announced our student, Ms Ivette Du Toit, as the winner of the 2018 SAIPA Tax Thesis Competition in the Master's degree category. She wins a R15 000 prize for setting a high standard with her study, "Transfer Pricing Legislation in South Africa: Challenges in Compliance". Her thesis was subjected to a rigorous process of adjudication by a panel of tax experts enlisted from SAIPA, emerging victorious amongst university tax students nationally. Ms Du Toit will receive an award and the cash prize at the SAIPA Top Achievers Awards on 11 October 2018 at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. Ms Du Toit, congratulations to you and the College of Business and Economics!

As part of our academic tradition annually, we allocate time to celebrate and honour our top achieving students. This year, we celebrated the achievements of 400 first-year eminent students at the First-Year Top Achievers Ceremony – obtaining an average of 75% or more in the June examination. The five top achievers obtained an average of 89% plus. Sheridan Pienaar, who matriculated from Marist Brothers College (Linmeyer) attained an overall average of 92.2%, and is studying towards a BSc in Mathematical Science (Actuarial Science).

Bronwyn Harmse received a more than admirable second place with an average of 91.7%. Bronwyn is studying towards a Bachelor of Biokinetics, and she matriculated from Pretoria Girls High School. Alex Brocco, Matthew Hoy and Amir Karim, all obtained an average of 89.8%. Brocco, who matriculated from Rand Park High School, is studying towards a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. Hoy, who matriculated from Northcliff High School, is studying towards a BSc in Information Technology and Karim in a BSc in Mathematical Science (Actuarial Science). Karim matriculated from Eden College. Of the 400 top achievers, 228 were females and 172 males. Please read more here. Congratulations to all our 2018 top achieving students!

Yesterday, our Centre for Entrepreneurship hosted the "Think Smart before you Start Up" Entrepreneur Fair with the Library as well as Fasken and ProBono.Org. Both ProBono.Org and Fasken are all committed to making a positive contribution to the South African economy by developing entrepreneurs and growing streams of new business to success – a vision that resonates well with our Centre for Entrepreneurship and the University generally. The South African Revenue Service (SARS), Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), and Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) also exhibited their business support services and products. I hope that you have gained valuable knowledge from this Fair and built your networks.

On Tuesday, 25 September 2018, the University's Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS), the Faculty of Law, in partnership with the University's Library and Information Centre, hosted a public lecture on "Mandela as a Lawyer". The story of black lawyers in South Africa was central to the lecture, with our guest speakers Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Albie Sachs. Advocate Ngcukaitobi pointed out how the country's first black lawyers led the struggle to dismantle the apartheid system with a multi-racial democracy, providing a heroic model for the legal profession throughout the world. Judge Sachs added that the story of Mandela as a lawyer, and that of Oliver Tambo and Ruth Mompati, enriched the legal profession and exemplifies the tale of lawbreaker to the lawmaker. I trust that this was an inspirational story to our Law students and those who attended the lecture.

As the saying goes, music is life. Our UJ Choir will embark on a tour to the city of Beijing in China from the 14th to the 22nd of October 2018. They will be joining more than fifty choirs with more than 3000 choristers from across the world at the 5th Beijing International Chorus Festival. This is a great opportunity to profile the University on the global stage. You will recall that our UJ Choir was crowned the 2018 champions in the Folk category of the World Choir Games that were held in Tshwane earlier this year. This Beijing tour is set to make the University proud.

The first of a series of three cloud-based debates of our Connective Conversations on the Fourth Industrial Revolution took place on Wednesday, 26 September 2018. Featuring prominent speakers such as Toby Shapshak, Kamal Ramsingh, Bongani Sithole, Dr Nicola Taylor, Prof Babu Paul, Dr Oscar van Heerden, and Prof Ylva Rodney-Gumede (who served as the facilitator), the debate shed light on serious issues relating to the Industry 4.0 on various spheres. A big thank you to those of you who participated in the dialogue – please join us again as we continue to interact with each other on the opportunities that Industry 4.0 provides as well as deliberating on eliminating some hurdles in the world of work. For those of you who missed the conversation, you may watch it here.

Next month we kick-start the last of our three graduation seasons. This summer series of our graduations will have ten ceremonies – between 11 and 31 October 2018 – with more than 1400 graduands who will walk across the stage to receive their qualifications. And soon our current students will go on a week-long study break before the end of October, with examinations starting immediately after that break. So, I would like to encourage our staff and students to make the most of the remaining time.

Lastly, this coming Monday ushers us into the month of Sport and Recreation in South Africa (October). As such, our UJ Sport will host an Olympic Day and School Leagues on Saturday, 29 September 2018, together with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the Gauteng Provincial Government. This is organised to encourage children and adults to participate in active sports, harnessing three pillars: To move, learn and discover through sport. If you have the time, please join in at the UJ Soweto Campus Sport Complex at 7 am.

Enjoy your weekend!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg