The aim is for the state-of-the-art institution to become “the campus of choice for most students and … an engaging facility that will cultivate the rich intellectual and artistic talent that continues to emerge from this extraordinary place”.
THE opening of the revamped University of Johannesburg (UJ) Soweto Campus marked another significant watershed in Soweto’s history.
The new swish UJ Soweto campus The new, swish UJ Soweto campusThis is according to the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Ihron Rensburg, who was speaking at the official opening celebration at the campus on Friday, 4 February.
“It is indeed a proud moment for the University of Johannesburg as we unveil and rededicate the revamped campus to government, staff and students, and members of the Soweto and Johannesburg community.”
Refurbishment of the campus cost about R450-million, and now the state-of-the-art facility has a new student residence, a 1 500-seat library, a bigger laboratory with 700 computers, new lecture theatres, a legal aid clinic, and sports facilities, including a sports centre. All the new buildings use solar energy.
There is one residence on campus, Hector Pieterson Residence. It has 327 beds for males and females. According to Tshidiso Konese, the campus marketing executive, the university rents two properties in Soweto to use as hostels for its students.
Its main academic offering is economic and financial sciences, education, humanities and management, with leadership training part of its core curriculum. It will accommodate some 5 000 students.
In addition, the Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises Development, under the faculty of management, has introduced a number of non-formal programmes aimed at educating local entrepreneurs.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela joins the celebrationsWinnie Madikizela-Mandela joins the celebrationsSince the centre’s inception in 2008, there have been monthly leadership lectures for members of the community who have an interest in developing their small businesses.
“Our vision for the Soweto campus is that it will become the campus of choice for most students and will be an engaging facility that will cultivate the rich intellectual and artistic talent that continues to emerge from his extraordinary place,” Rensburg said.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, and ANC veteran and Soweto resident Winnie Madikizela-Mandela attended the opening.
Speaking at the celebration, Motlanthe said: “Today is a red letter day because it is a day heralding increased efforts to tackle challenges of under development in our uneven socio-economic landscape … This state of affairs is a far cry from the dubious intentions of the previous order that prompted the establishment of Vista University in the first place.”
He encouraged the community to take ownership of the institution, thus inspiring learners to work hard so that they may also be “proud” students at the university.
During the sod-turning of the project in June 2008, Pandor, at the time the minister of education, urged students not to make transformation at UJ just about changing staff or student profiles, but to see it as a long-term change involving all aspects of university life.
Work on upgrading the campus began in March 2009 and was funded by the Department of Education and the private sector.
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