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UWC celebrates 105 PhD graduates this year

UWC celebrates 105 PhD graduates this year

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) this year celebrated an extraordinary achievement with their 105 PhD graduates in total for the year.

Last week UWC conferred a total of 745 graduates in September - including 38 Doctoral Degrees, 133 Masters Degrees, 141 Honours Degrees, 281 Undergraduate Degrees, 95 Diplomas and 58 Certificates. In March 2014 UWC conferred 67 PhD’s.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, said this 2014 Spring Graduation is extra special as the late Imam Abdullah Haron was honoured.

Archbishop Makgoba went on to thank Professor Ramesh Bharuthram and Professor Brian O’Connell for their service at UWC. Professor O’Connell and Bharutham are retiring this year.

Prof Bharuthram has published more than 100 research articles in journals of international standing and has been a visiting professor at the Central University, Hyderabad, India and the University of California, San Diego, USA. UWC’s research output and quality has improved dramatically during the last few years and the institution has received national recognition of excellence for several programmes.

Under Prof Bharuthram’s capable leadership, UWC continued its effort to improve the quality of its post-graduate offering, evidenced through improved graduation and throughput rates, and the University has made considerable progress in the development of research niche areas. In the period that he has been Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UWC’s research output has increased by more than 200%.

UWC’s achievements in the national context indicate that the University is:

  1. 6th in the proportion of full-time academic staff with NRF research ratings;

  2. 5th in terms of academic staff with PhD’s;

  3. 7th in the percentage of income from research contracts and other forms of third-stream income; and

  4. 5th in terms of its research impact measured by citations.

As a result of Prof’s leadership, UWC has to date been awarded 11 SARChI Chairs, occupying the 4th position nationally with the University of KwaZulu Natal. The main aim of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) is to strengthen the scientific research leadership and capacity of South African universities.

Archbishop Makgoba said that when Prof Bharuthram retires at the end of 2014, he will leave behind a University with a growing number of excellent academics and research units, and an institution that is respected for the quality of its graduates and that enjoys wide recognition for the impact of its research.

Prof O’Connell, on the other hand, has been a professional educator for 44 years, serving as a teacher, school principal, Rector of a Teacher Education College, Vice-Rector at the then Peninsula Technikon and Superintendent-General (SG) of the Western Cape Provincial Education Department.

As SG he was responsible for approximately 2,000 schools in the Province, collectively educating more than a million learners.

In November 2001 Brian O’Connell was appointed as the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of UWC, where he is also a Professor in Education Leadership and Management. O’Connell started as Rector and Vice-Chancellor when the institution was bankrupt and staff morale was very low. Slowly but surely the process of rebuilding UWC began and student numbers started increasing again.

Archbishop Makgoba mentioned that UWC has since undergone various changes during Prof O’Connell’s time as Rector. His vast experience in working with communities was very valuable and, specifically in those first years, he worked tirelessly to rebuild relationships between the University and various communities, restoring trust in UWC as an institution of quality, committed to the future of the country and its youth.

The UWC of 2014 also looks different in many respects. There are a number of new academic buildings, amongst which is the largest Life Sciences building on the African continent. During the last decade, 30,000m2  of new academic space was developed, with equally large projects about to commence in the next few months. Student numbers have more than doubled and UWC’s research output places it amongst the top universities in the country.

The development of UWC under the leadership of Prof Brian O’Connell is a narrative of hope that has yielded wonderful successes and that has established UWC as one of the country’s leading universities.

UWC Spring Graduation Multimedia

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Day 3
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For media enquiries, contact Luthando Tyhalibongo on 021 959 26 25 or via email at, or Aidan van den Heever on 021 959  9566 or via email at