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They are the lucky few, it was emphasised to the more than 1 400 first-time entering students of the Sol Plaatje University (SPU) in Kimberley.

On welcoming the 2022 intake at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in the city, Prof. Andrew Crouch, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, reminded the students that they were part of the generation who had navigated the Covid-19 crisis in schools. “You relied on your own intelligence and your own drive,” he said, adding that while projecting themselves to the future, they must remember those who fall out along the journey, and those who have supported them.

Crouch advised them to embrace the country’s challenges, as they are part of the generation who will need to help solve these, with poverty and inequality being some of the biggest challenges. “When you graduate one day, you must have skills and abilities to be part of the economy,” he said.

“You must be a certain type of individual based on a value system of respect – respect for others and respect for yourself.” He said it was that type of individual that would help break the chain of, amongst other ills, gender-based violence – which is a problem in the Northern Cape.

On the SPU’s future, Crouch said the building cranes would be visible in Kimberley for the next four to five years, reiterating that Kimberley would be transformed from a mining town to a university town.

Interesting facts about the SPU

When the SPU opened its doors in 2014 it had 124 registered students. In 2022, the SPU expects to have in the region of 3 479 students, of which 339 will be new postgraduate students.

It is anticipated that the SPU will have 5 071 students by the end of 2024 and about 7 500 by 2025. A total of 403 students graduated from 2015 to 2018, and the 1 000 mark for graduates was passed at the graduation ceremony in March 2021. Staff have increased from 33 in 2014 to 590 staff members, of which 147 are academics, 202 administrative staff and 241 service staff. Currently 54% of the SPU’s academics hold doctoral degrees and 40% masters degrees.

The programmes to be introduced in 2022 are:

§  Bachelor of Environmental Science;

§  BCom (Accounting);

§  BCom (Economics);

§  Revised BEd (Intermediate Phase);

§  Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE);

§  MEd by research;

§  MA (Heritage Studies/Archaeology) by research;

§  MA (Languages) by research; and

§  MSc (e-Science) by coursework.

This article appeared in the Noordkaap Bulletin on 24 February 2022.