UWC officially starts 2017 academic year

Almarie Conradie from Oakdale, Bellville will be studying pharmacy at the University of the Western Cape. She is pictured with her mom, Ilse.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) welcomed more than 4 200 first-year students at its orientation programme before classes officially started this week.

Orientation week started on Monday February 20, as proud parents and guardians of excited first years gathered for welcoming ceremonies at UWC’s Bellville campus, followed by a much-anticipated, fun-filled orientation programme.

UWC vice-chancellor and rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius addressed students from all faculties in the university’s main hall.

He assured parents that they had made the right decision enrolling their children at the institution, in spite of the protests that had rocked universities.

“We have come far in building this university,” he said. “Burning our universities can only set the current generation – and our future generations – back.

“We appreciate the important role education plays, especially for the communities we serve – where education is, to most families, the only escape from poverty.”

The rector also shared a few of the university’s recent highlights with the newest members of the UWC community.

“In early 2016, UWC launched the first hydrogen-fuel forklift and hydrogen-refuelling station in South Africa, developed by our team of researchers and innovators. And, last year, we also became the first African university to have an experiment to run at the European Centre for Nuclear Research, the holy grail for science research.

“The special success story of the University of the Western Cape needs to be highlighted, given that the challenges the sector has experienced over the past two years, especially the student protest, have sought to obscure some of the gains we made, painting a picture of a university in distress,” he said.

“I am pleased with our successes in 2016; we made significant progress in building a reputable university that is truly a place of quality, a place to grow from hope to action through knowledge.”

Aidan van Wyk, 17, from Kalkfontein in Kuils River, was excited to be part of the orientation programme.

“I come from a tough community, and I have seen the social ills around me,” he said, “which is why I enrolled for a undergraduate degree in social work. I love people, and it is my wish to be able to help my community.”