First Year students officially welcomed on campus
The Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) is bursting at the seams with more than 2 200 first year students making ready to register for the new academic year. During the recent Official Welcoming Ceremony for the newcomers, the Campus Rector – Prof. Thanyani Mariba, indicated that the campus is currently experiencing exponential growth and that it bears testament to the fact that the campus is maturing into a campus of choice. During the recent years the student numbers on the NWU Vaal Triangle have increased from 3 744 in 2008, to 4 576 in 2009 and 5 269 in 2010.
Choice and responsibility goes hand in hand
In his address to the new first year students the Rector emphasized the importance of choice and responsibility – both in terms of academic commitments and social endeavours. He furthermore urged the students to look beyond the here and the now and to proactively work towards the future that they would like to bestow on future generations. “You are the change that you seek” lamented the Rector whilst assuring them they themselves hold the key to their future success.
“As university students you are not here to merely master a field of study or prepare yourself for a future career - you are here to invest in the future to enable the world to live more amply; with greater vision and a finer spirit of hope and achievement” said Prof. Mariba and he warned students to guard against letting opportunities pass them by. The latter will not only impoverish the individual but also the region and the country since every opportunity represents a chance to grow your potential and abilities.
The changing face of the workplace
One of the most essential skills needed in the competitive workplace it the ability to think both critically and laterally and according to the Campus Rector, this ability is vital in terms of contributing to sustainable and innovative regeneration and growth. Critical thinkers have the ability to make good judgement and to strategically analyse trends and scenarios – all very important business skills that will set a graduate apart from other individuals competing for the same position. According to the Department of Education, this year will see more than 300 000 of all 2010-matriculants joining a university, college, skills programme or learnerships – a total increase of 56% to previous statistics.
It is the opinion of the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, that this number will reach the million mark within a few years. In addition to this, the National Plan for Higher Education states that South Africa has one of the lowest graduation rates in the world. The continuous drop in graduation rates subsequently costs the National Treasury in access of R4.5 billion in grands and subsidies with no proportionate return on investment. According to Prof. Mariba these startling statistics only reiterates the importance of focused academic learning and the decreasing job market – especially in our country with a one-third unemployment rate.
The need for an environmental legacy
With the campus situated within a proclaimed nature reserve – the onus of responsible citizenship (especially with regard to the environment) rests on the shoulders of each and every member of the campus community. The Rector challenged each student to take up the baton of “living green” and to act as environmental custodians by reducing their carbon footprint, taking part in recycling initiatives and to join hands in protecting the beautiful scenery of the campus. During the past two months more than 150 indigenous trees have been planted on the campus and several new “scenic” walkways have been developed that runs across the open fields next to the dams.
A proud multicultural and multi-lingual environment
In conclusion, the Rector challenged each student to embrace the unique student culture on the campus and to solidify their membership to the NWU Vaal Triangle by meeting new people and by joining –wholeheartedly, in all activities. “Get to know someone who is different from you – perhaps by religion, ethnicity or background. You will find this both an enriching experience and good practice for keeping an open mind for defending your own beliefs and customs through reasoned argument whilst being respectful of the beliefs and practices of others”.
Published by Sipho Msolo on 28 January 2011.