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UWC opens its doors to 4,500 first-year students

Author: Aidan van den Heever

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) welcomed more than 4,500 first-year students to its campus today, 28 January.

(Published - 29 January 2019)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) welcomed more than 4,500 first-year students to its campus today, 28 January. They were welcomed by the University’s executive and the Deans from the various faculties.

In a packed University Main Hall, Deputy President of the Student Representative Council, Songezo Booi, also addressed the first-year students and their parents. He said access to a university is often a challenge because of limited space available. UWC received about 40,000 first-year undergraduate applications for 2019 from around the country.

“You are very fortunate to be here, so use this opportunity to the best of your ability. As Robert Sobukwe said: ‘Education is a means to be of service to Africa’. This journey won’t be an easy one, but persistence and perseverance is what will get you through,” Booi said.

Yasmin Forbes, UWC Chairperson of Council, reminded students that their journey of excitement and change has just started. “Let us strive to complete the journey. The skills you acquire here are the skills that will have an impact on society and the world,” she said.

Professor Pamela Dube, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Student Development and Support, told students that education is the pathway to change. “Historically, UWC has welcomed many who were the first in their families to attend a university - let me tell you that in just four years you can change your life, and the lives of your family members,” she said.

Professor Dube highlighted the achievements of Dr Emmanuel Ilori, who arrived from Nigeria in 2012 and expected to be met by a travel agent. However, his tuition and accomodation fees had been stolen by the man.

“Dr Ilori worked as a security guard to pay for his fees and make ends meet, and six years later he was conferred with a doctorate in public administration. A big lesson can be learnt from Dr Ilori. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what crosses your path. When you are focused on your dreams, anything is possible,” she said.

First-year student Diego Vries from Milnerton said he is surprised at how green the campus is. (Last year the University was crowned Africa’s greenest campus at the 7th Annual Green Campuses Conference.)

Diego attended Milnerton High School and always had ambitions of studying BCom Finance at the University of the Western Cape. “With business, I think that my chances are greater for finding employment in various fields,” he said.

Jaden Cupido from Parow Valley, who matriculated from The Settlers High School, said he enrolled for the BCom Accounting course. “UWC is a very good university, and it is close to home - which makes it easier for me, too,” he said.

Another The Settlers High School matriculant who also enrolled for the Bcom Accounting course, is Lindsey Ndlela from Bellville. “In five years time I see myself at one of the top finance firms in the country, and through UWC I know it is possible,” she said.

Interesting facts about UWC - Here are a few things you might not know:

  • The UWC CREATES programme is the only creative writing programme in South Africa operating across three languages (English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa), where learners work with their natural gifts and develop their own storytelling voices.
  • UWC’s Science Learning Centre for Africa (SLCA) is promoting the culture of maths and science through tutorial programmes, science competitions and clubs, robotics and aviation initiatives, and constructing state-of-the-art science labs at underprivileged schools.
  • The University is a world leader in Constitutional Law and Child Rights Law, and academics and alumni from the University’s Dullah Omar Institute were intimately involved in drafting South Africa’s Constitution.
  • UWC’s HySA Systems is leading the way when it comes to hydrogen power, partnering with industry leaders to produce South Africa’s first hydrogen-powered fuel cell backup power systems, forklift and refueller, and a fleet of green golf carts (and that’s not all).
  • The University’s Co-Curricular Record allows for a realistic and holistic – and official – way of recognising students’ contributions and experiences in academic support, entrepreneurship, leadership, sports leadership and community engagement.

Looking for more interesting UWC facts? Why not check these out here, by the numbers? And why not find out about five fascinating UWC firsts, while you’re at it?


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