In its mission statement of 1982, UWC Objectives, the university formally rejected the apartheid ideology on which it was established, adopting a declaration of nonracialism and "a firm commitment to the development of the Third World communities in South Africa." In 1983, through the University of the Western Cape Act of 1983, the university finally gained its autonomy on the same terms as the established "white" institutions.
The university also formalised its "open" admissions policy, providing access to a growing number of African students, and paving the way for rapid growth. Despite severe constraints, students from disadvantaged communities graduated in increasing numbers, equipped to make a professional contribution to the new South Africa. President Nelson Mandela lauded UWC for having transformed itself "from an apartheid ethnic institution to a proud national asset."
Under the visionary leadership of its current Rector, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, the university is now, more than ever, challenged to demonstrate that it is capable of competing with the best and of playing a prominent role in the intellectual, social and economic life of the nation.
One of UWC's primary concerns for the future is to use its mandate to create and maintain a sense of hope for the nation whilst helping to build an equitable and dynamic society.
A second concern is with its role in the knowledge economy. It remains committed to creating, preserving and disseminating knowledge that is dynamic and relevant to the challenges of a modern world and a transforming society. A third concern, which is inseparable from the notions of hope and knowledge, is a concern with agency - the will and the ability to act, to be an agent of change.
A dynamic future beckons as UWC strives to remain a vibrant institution of high repute, in pursuit of excellence in teaching, learning and research. UWC believes that its strength will come from its ability to provide a nurturing space for its staff and students to grow in hope and to create and share knowledge to inform agency.
However, COVID-19 served as a catalyst for expanded innovative thinking at the University. One milestone includes UWC scientists helping to decode the genome of COVID-19 to facilitate curbing its spread and to contribute towards finding a vaccine.
Researchers examined the impact of the pandemic and the lockdown on South African society, from big business to spaza shops. UWC academics have worked to keep the public informed of the latest developments in the battle against Covid-19.
The University pioneered a virtual graduation ceremony during lockdown so that graduates could celebrate their hard work and achievements. Additionally, its #NoStudentWillBeLeftBehind appeal addressed the need of thousands of students who did not have the resources necessary for flexi-learning. Visit: http://60.uwc.ac.za/