Vice-Chancellor Message – 12 March 2021

Date: Mar 12, 2021 | News


vice chancellor message

Dear UJ Community

The last three weeks since our University opened registrations for first-year students has been a challenging period because of obvious reasons related to student funding. As communicated by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was not able to timeously confirm funding eligibility for first-time entering students. Understandably, this has caused great anxiety and panic among students and their families. Concomitantly, the situation has put enormous pressure on the University as we needed to finalise registration processes and start academic activities.

As communicated last week, the University is mindful of these concerns and is making every effort to provide support, within the limited fiscal environment. The UJ Council has granted permission for NSFAS eligible first time entering students to register without paying the required registration fee. We are assisting these students with this process. Currently, we have progressed very well with registrations and, to date, have registered more than 10 500 students, which represents over 97% of the planned 10 871 new undergraduate first year students. A total of 2 532 NSFAS eligible students have registered and we continue with our efforts to assist those who have not. For the interim period, the University has granted the fully admitted but not yet registered students access to our learning management system, (i.e. Blackboard). Applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible as spaces are limited, and data allocations are subject to being registered.

On a somber note, we recently lost two students to the scourge of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Our hearts go out to their friends and family. It is a grim reminder that GBV is another pandemic we battle in South Africa. As a University, the safety, wellbeing and welfare of our students and our entire community is one of our core priorities. We remain committed to providing an environment where staff and students may study and perform their duties and other activities free from all forms of verbal or sexual harassment, rape, intimidation or exploitation. All reported incidents will be dealt with in accordance with the UJ policies and procedures.

In case that you find yourself in any GBV incident internally or externally, kindly report to us as follows:

  • Protection Services: APK 011 559 2555/3400 | APB 011 559 1312/1076 | DFC 011 559 6085 | SWC 011 559 5555. (During working hours, after hours and on weekend and holidays)
  • Transformation Division: you can also report cases to Fhatuwani Ligege (fjligege@uj.ac.za) or (gender@uj.ac.za). (during working hours)
  • Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD): psycadinfo@uj.ac.za I 24 Hours Crisis Line: 0820541137
  • Campus Health: APK-011 559 3837 I APB-011 559 1238 I DFC-011 559 6544 I SWC-011 559 5571 (during working hours)
  • CAREWAYS: 0800004770 (for UJ staff)

We also urge students and staff to download the NAMOLA App on their cellphones. It is a safety app that can be used anywhere. If in any danger, students and staff can simply open the app and select either police, ambulance, or fire brigade assistance. An operator will call you immediately and ask you what the problem is. That operator will then contact the necessary people to assist you on your behalf (SAPS, Emergency Medical Services, etc.) You only need data and your phone’s location to be on as the service is free. NAMOLA app: https://www.namola.com/download.

In rankings news, I am happy to announce that our University received continued global acknowledgement and affirmation of its world-class subject offerings. Last week Wednesday, 3 March 2021, UJ was ranked among the best universities in the world for ten subjects this year – three more than the previous year, according to the latest 2021 QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings by Subject.

Most notably, UJ excelled in its top-performing subject, English Language & Literature, retaining its position among the top 250 universities globally (201-250 band) and placing joint third nationally, and in Physics & Astronomy, climbing a band from 451-500 to 401-450 globally and moving up two notches from fourth position to be ranked second in South Africa, above Wits University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. These results are yet another testament to the University’s ongoing efforts in positioning UJ as an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, and dynamically shaping the future. To read more about this great news, click here.

An important element of ranking is how we position ourselves to the global community. Regarding this, our professorial inaugural lectures are hosted in a blended mode. Congratulations:

This week, we also hosted a 2-day orientation event for postgraduate students (Day 1 and Day 2 – today (10h00-12h30)).

Lastly, as you might know, data privacy was recently thrust into the spotlight following intended changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy. Confusion reigned as millions of users downloaded other messaging apps. The WhatsApp hysteria highlights a growing concern regarding data privacy. But is it as worrying as some people think, or is it really another stepping-stone on the path to Big Brother? The University Relations’ Marketing and Brand team brought together a group of experts to debate this issue, at the first Cloudebate™ of the year held on 10 March 2021. Watch the debate click here.

Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/news/corona-virus/.  We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.

Kea leboga, Enkosi, thank you!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala  
Vice-Chancellor and Principal  
University of Johannesburg  

Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.

prof tshilidzi marwala

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