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13 November 2018
UWC Community and Health Sciences Bellville Campus: Putting the Community Back in Community and Health Sciences

(Published - 13 November 2018)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) began its life as a site for limited coloured higher education - a restricted, disconnected geographical space. But successive leaders at UWC and beyond have rejected this notion of an institution apartheid, and worked to develop a more community-based approach to the academic project.

On 13 November 2018, 58 years after the first students arrived at UWC’s main campus, the University grew beyond its apartheid cocoon with the official opening of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences Bellville Campus in the Bellville central business district (CBD).

“The opening of this building provides a strong lesson for all of us: you don’t have to let your past determine your future,” said SA Minister of Higher Education and Training, Hon Naledi Pandor, at the launch. “We determine the fate of our lives, and of our country - and when we own that, we can achieve great things. I see this university owning its fate.”

Cape Town - 2018/11/13 - Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor - flanked by Professor Anthea Rhoda, Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (right) at the University of the Western Cape - is given a tour of the facilities at the new Faculty of Community and Health Sciences building in the Bellville CBD. Minister Pandor officially opened the building on 13 November 2018. PICTURE: Jeffrey Abrahams

The Bellville campus is mainly an educational facility for the moment, and its 10 storeys will host four UWC departments: Physiotherapy; Occupational Therapy; the School of Nursing; and the School of Natural Medicine. With much of CHS still located on UWC’s Main Campus, this also marks the Faculty’s transition into a multi-campus force for public health.

“As Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences of UWC, I know first-hand how important community is to us,” said CHS Dean, Prof Anthea Rhoda. “Bellville has been the home of UWC for almost 60 years. And while both the University and the community have grown from strength to strength, this new campus can help bring us closer together, and chart an even greater future.”

The building, located in the former Jan S Marais Hospital and Salus House, doesn’t just have multiple seminar rooms, tutorial rooms and classrooms, dedicated staff areas and parking. There’s also: a spacious multipurpose hall able to sub-divide into smaller rooms for 60 to 120 students; training simulation labs for teaching basic nursing skills; psychology and midwifery; a rehabilitation gym for the Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy departments; Natural Medicine laboratories with treatment rooms and dispensaries; computer labs and resource centres; multi-faith prayer rooms, and more.

“There are many examples of universities that are embedded within communities or occupy a central status within a town,” UWC’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, noted. “These universities and their towns feed off each other, and their fates and fortunes are interconnected. This is what we envision for UWC - and this is therefore a significant milestone for us.”

The new UWC CHS Bellville campus is an outgrowth of UWC’s commitment to the urban renewal strategy to uplift the Bellville surrounds and city centre as part of the improvement strategy of the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP).

“The first students to enroll at the University College of the Western Cape (as it was then known) would almost certainly be watching us in awe,” Minister Pandor said. “And the apartheid architects who dreamt up a university for coloured people and stuck it on the Cape Flats could never have imagined your spirit and resilience.”

Cape Town - 2018/11/13 - Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor - flanked by Professor Anthea Rhoda, Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (left), and the chairperson of the Council of the University of the Western Cape's, Yasmin Forbes - is given a tour of the midwifery simulation laboratory at the new Faculty of Community and Health Sciences building in the Bellville CBD. Minister Pandor officially opened the building on 13 November 2018. PICTURE: Jeffrey Abrahams

“I’m sure, wherever he is, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd must be turning in his grave.”

Partnerships To Revitalise The Beating Heart of Bellville

By developing new infrastructure and attracting new businesses to the area, the Bellville campus will help transform the Voortrekker Road Corridor and the Greater Tygerberg region into a prosperous, successful and attractive commercial centre, and position Bellville’s CBD as a vibrant, inclusive, safe and modern hub for students, businesses and residents.

The University’s intention is to be an anchor institution in Cape Town and its surrounding areas.

Warren Hewitt, CEO of the GTP, said they are mandated to transform the Voortrekker Road Corridor and the Greater Tygerberg region into a prosperous, successful and attractive commercial centre.

“UWC is a valuable partner in achieving this vision. The investment by UWC will play an enormous role in supporting the development of the region, and along with the GTP, create a formidable alliance in the enhancement of innovation, education and skills development in our community,” said Hewitt.

“With this step we are moving away from the old ivory tower model of universities, where the activities of academics take place in their own world, far from regular people. We are taking a step outside - a step to what we might call an open campus.

“Thank you, Bellville, for welcoming us in. We’re looking forward to working with you,” Prof Rhoda concluded.

Want to know more about the new building? Just check this out: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnsdD16ZXHnwMyF-IlT4_qI4V5eiAoMMT