(Published - 4 February 2019)
Dear Campus Community,
I am delighted to welcome everyone back as the 2019 academic year gets under way. Particularly for our new students, this signals an exciting phase in your lives. University is an important phase in your transition to finding your place and purpose in the world, and the experiences that you acquire during this formative time are important in preparing you for your eventual role in society.
For some, coming to the University of the Western Cape (UWC) means being away from family and loved ones for an extended period – maybe for the very first time. But I assure you, you will be okay. Eventually you will find your way and there are many people here who want to help you, not just to settle in, but to be a successful student who excels. I also wish our returning students, academics and staff well as they continue their respective journeys at UWC. I trust you have all returned revitalised and ready for the year ahead.
As a University, we continue to make strides as a research-led institution, not just in the South African context, but also in our region and internationally. We strive to be a vibrant intellectual space where people engage about matters of real significance, but more importantly, we are committed to producing graduates who can make meaningful contributions in all spheres of society.
As the government attempts to provide additional funding to support access to studying at our various universities, we recognise that many of our students and their families continue to face financial challenges. In this regard, I want to assure you that UWC has a proud record of supporting academically deserving students in various ways. This will not change.
There are many things to look forward to in 2019, and this includes a number of new infrastructure projects. These projects include the development of a new Education precinct on the South campus as well as the refurbishment and repurposing of recently vacated buildings. We are also in the process of repurposing an old school building in Greatmore Street in Woodstock as an international hub for the humanities. Additionally, we are developing a concept to reinvigorate the Student Centre.
Creating affordable student accommodation, close to campus, is another project the University leadership is invested in, and this project is planned to commence soon. Once completed it will almost double the University’s capacity in terms of the student accommodation we are able offer. As with the Greatmore Street building and the facilities of the Faculties of Dentistry and Community & Health Sciences in Bellville, at the Tygerberg Hospital complex and in Mitchells Plain, this project forms part of our vision of expanding UWC’s physical footprint beyond the main campus in order to strengthen the link between the University and the various communities we engage with. These initiatives allow UWC to break away from its geographic location to become a catalytic agent impacting the social and urban landscape of our city.
Today our rugby team embarks on a special journey as our players make their debut against UCT in the FNB Varsity Cup. It is a journey seven years in the making, and at the end of the 2018 season we successfully progressed from the Varsity Shield tournament to becoming the first historically disadvantaged institution to earn the right to participate in the leading varsity rugby tournament in the country. We wish our team and coaches well and we will back them – irrespective of the results on the field. We ask the entire campus community to get behind Udubs and be our team’s Player 16, especially during our home games.
Good luck for the year ahead and congratulations on choosing UWC. I urge you to make use of the range of opportunities available to you so that you may achieve your full potential. Remember, wherever you go, you should be a proud ambassador of our great institution.
You are UWC, I am UWC!
Prof Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor
University of the Western Cape