Rhodes VC full of praise as new students arriveDate Released: Tue, 10 February 2015 11:00 +0200
RHODES University's new vice-chancellor has praised more than 1 500 first-year students for excelling in Grade 12 despite huge school education challenges across the country.
Welcoming the first year students to Grahamstown on Sunday night, Dr Sizwe Mabizela said 1 584 had cracked the nod to study in Grahamstown out of more than 10 000 applications.
"Your achievement is all the more special given that our education system still fails so dismally to realise the full potential of the majority of young people in this country."
Although the smallest university in the country, Mabizela who replaced Dr Saleem Badat as vice-chancellor late last year — said this not had stopped students scooping the lion's share of top academic scholarships.
"We represent less than 1% of the higher education enrolments, but our students win most of the prestigious scholarships."
According to Mabizela, nine names from Rhodes were submitted for 40 Mandela-Rhodes Scholarships late last year, with six coming out tops out of 500 applicants.
"We have the highest number of Mandela Rhodes scholars of any South African university."
He said they were by far the smallest university in South Africa, with 8 041 students enrolled this year.
Important statistics include: 59% of the students are women, 30% are doing postgraduate studies and 20% come from 66 different countries in Africa and beyond.
"The national, linguistic and cultural diversity we have here makes us an exciting and a cosmopolitan place.
"It is also this diversity that creates a vibrant intellectual, social and cultural environment, which is key to achieving academic excellence."
He said the university boasted the best undergraduate and graduation pass rates as well as the best research outputs per academic staff member in the country.
Mabizela strongly encouraged all students to enrich their education and personal growth and development by associating and interacting with other young people who come from different backgrounds - racial, cultural, social, class, linguistic, ethnic origin or geographic area - and who had different views, ideas, beliefs and perspectives.
He warned students to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
He also said irresponsible consumption of alcohol and experimentation with drugs would not be tolerated.
By David Macgregor
Source: Daily Dispatch
Photographer: Mike Dexter