(Published - 27 January 2020}
It was an exciting beginning for many students as they started the year, visibly eager and proud about a new chapter in their lives at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
The curious first-years had their first taste of University life as the academic procession officially opened the welcome events in a packed UWC Main Hall.
Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius reflected on the importance of the occasion.
“Many years ago I was a student here, just like you I travelled from outside of the Western Cape and found a home away from home and worked hard to make my dreams come true. My wish for you this morning is for your dreams to be realised,” he said.
Professor Pretorius told the students they are joining UWC during a very special milestone for the institution as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.
“While we are not proud of how this University started, we are very proud of what we have achieved and what UWC has become,” Professor Pretorius said.
“You are starting your academic career at UWC at the beginning of a new and exciting decade, and I am convinced that this decade will have far reaching changes and challenges. It is a brave new world out there, with technological advances and developments that will fundamentally change the way our lives work.”
Professor Pretorius explained that while many fear that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will lead to job losses, his own view is that the world of work will change, but it will change in exciting ways with great opportunities for those who are ready to embrace the 4IR.
“Today, I want to urge you to use your time at UWC, not only to master your academic work and earn good grades, but to spend time learning the soft skills. Some of these skills include becoming adaptable so that you are not overwhelmed by change but rather embrace it, acquire critical thinking skills so that you can solve complex problems, and most importantly, develop a life-long learning skill so that if the need arises you can quickly re-skill,” he said.
Sasha Lee Douglas, President of the Student Representative Council, told first-years not to let the opportunities at University slip through their fingers.
“Be active in seeking opportunities at University. UWC has made me a better person and I have used every opportunity to grow here ,” she said. “This year UWC is celebrating its 60th birthday and as students we need to continue to be agents of change here on campus and in our communities.”
Jodan van Niekerk, from Atlantis, and Ronaldo Malgas, from Wesbank, are two of the thousands of students who are ready to take advantage of the opportunities coming their way.
“It is important to young people to be the change they want to be in society. I have decided to study towards a degree in Education (B.Ed) because I want to take an active role in bringing that change,” Jodan said.
Ronaldo is also enrolled in the B.Ed programme and will specialise in Life Orientation and Languages. “I like to work with people. With Education it will allow me to help shape the leaders of tomorrow, and who knows - one of those students could be the next president of South Africa,” Ronaldo 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.