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UWC Student Orientation 2018: Learning is Not a Spectator Sport

Learning is not a spectator sport: 2018 Student Orientation at the University of the Western Cape

Over 4 000 students from all walks of life have joined the University of the Western Cape for Orientation Week 2018 - welcome to the family!

“Being at university can be one of the most exciting times of your lives. It’s a time to grow and learn, not only about the academic course that you have chosen, but - very importantly - about yourselves.”

So said Professor Tyrone Pretorius, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Western Cape, as he welcomed thousands of fresh-faced new students from all walks of life to UWC at their 2018 Student Orientation on Monday, 29 January 2018.

Prof Pretorius explained how education has proven, over and over again, that it has the ability to transform lives - if we let it.

“But as D Blocher said, learning is not a spectator sport. Indeed it isn’t - if you want to become a champion golfer, you don’t sit on the grass, You get out there and practice until you are the very best.”

In the decades since it was founded, UWC has done just that, thanks to the efforts of hardworking and brilliant students and staff, becoming home to (among many other things):

  • The greatest concentration of researchers working on the Square Kilometre Array telescope and probing the origins of the universe;
  • A Centre for Humanities Research that is internationally acclaimed for its work investigating our understanding of ourselves;
  • A Centre of Excellence in Food Security that tackles one of our biggest global challenges and conducts research into sustainable food systems for poor and vulnerable populations.

Lumkile Thomas, President of the UWC Student Representative Council, gave students a taste of the history of the institution they are joining, and of what they might expect in the years ahead.

“UWC has played a huge role in the liberation struggle of this country, and this has not been easy,” he said. “Your journey at university will not be easy as well - but with hard work and focus you can reach your goals.”

UWC Registrar, Nita Lawton-Misra, urged the incoming students to remember that they had earned their place at the University, as part of the select few to be accepted out of thousands of applicants.

“You should feel very proud of that - and do the best you can with the opportunity you’ve been given,” she said.”You owe it to yourselves, and the ones who helped you get to where you are.”

“The next time you will be sitting here in this great hall will probably be with your parents at your graduation,” she added. “After that, it’s up to you to go out there and change the world.”

Fresh Faces at UWC: A University With A Heart

Prof Pretorius reassured parents that they had made the right decision by helping enrol their children at UWC.

“As a parent, I know how it feels when you have to let go of your children - but this university isn’t just about excellence; it has a heart that is kind and compassionate. When you study here, you become part of the UWC community - and as we know with a true tight-knit community, people take care of each other.”

Last year, he noted, UWC produced over 5 000 graduates - over 100 of them PhDs - in seven faculties, covering everything from anthropology to dentistry, and philosophy to zoology.

“One of the qualities that we treasure at UWC is our ability to embrace diversity,” he explained. “We are a campus that welcomes and respects you for who are - no matter your religion, race, gender, sexuality, background, field of study - we welcome your views. This is your chapter to write - only you can determine how it will begin and end. But enjoy the journey - and have fun!”

And the incoming class of fresher students is every bit as diverse as those who came before.

One of the thousands of students at Orientation 2018 was Laa’iqah Stanfield from Maitland, who is registered for a Bachelors of Arts degree, and was accompanied by her mother, Shireen.

“Orientation has been really helpful and enjoyable, and I am enjoying the campus so far,” she said.

Shireen wishes to pursue a career in Social Work after finishing her degree, and wants to make a difference in her community.

“My parents are unemployed and my brother attends Kenmere Primary in Kensington,” she added. “I wish to continue making them proud.”