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Top students tour Wits

- By Kemantha Govender

The VC’s Top 100 event gives learners the opportunity to see what Wits has to offer.

Wits Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adam Habib told top learners in South Africa that they have what it takes to address the multitude of challenges in the country.

The VC’s Top 100 Event took place on 3 October 2015 and was attended by learners and their parents. The programme allowed learners to get a better idea of what Wits is about and what it can offer them should they choose this institution.

Apart from compelling arguments made by the Wits leadership, the grade 12 learners also had the option of a campus tour.

After Dr Pamela Dube, Dean of Students, welcomed the guests, Habib highlighted several of Wits’ accolades.

One of them was the Centre of Excellence - Mathematical and Statistical Sciences awarded by The National Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. Habib said the Centre carries the hopes for the country.

Habib also drew attention to the Origins Centre, which not only houses the country’s premier rock art collection, but has large depictions of hominid fossils. He said Wits has a premier group of researchers that work on providing knowledge about the origins of humankind. He mentioned how the discovery of Homo naledi created all sorts of debates and said this is what Wits is all about, getting the country to engage in robust debate.

Serious challenges

This much-needed debate is vital if South Africa is to find productive ways to combat its challenges such as poverty, inequality, unemployment and education.

“There are lots of serious challenges in education, but on the top end of our education system we produce students that the world cannot compete with. We produce some of the best minds in the world,” said Habib.

He added that the students present represented the crème de la crème of South Africa.

“For you to have earned the place, walking through that door meant that you have a point score of more than 55. This suggests that you are in the real top end of the school system, so we are proud to have you here,” said Habib.

He stressed that the important thing about going to university is finding the right match. In order to entice students to consider Wits has their first choice, Habib emphasised the central location of the institution in the country.

More importantly, Habib talked about the University’s serious commitment to excellence and ensuring that Wits is globally competitive and locally responsive.

Wits has brought in at least 20 distinguished professors and will continue to attract more A-rated scientists. The University also plans to increase its post graduate cohort in the coming years. These measures are being put into place to ensure that Wits students are able to address the challenges of society and continent by being locally responsible.

“If you want to be world class, you have to take your local challenges as use it as a source of innovation. This is why our mining engineering programmes are so brilliant, because we specialise in deep level mining because it is a national challenge and we use that as a basis for going forward.

“Wits recently signed a R2 million contract with the Chamber of Mines around health and safety in the mining industry largely with the University of Pretoria and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,” said Habib.

Habib said another example is the HIV and Aids issue.“It is a national challenge but Wits scholars produce some of the best research in the world,” he said.

He reminded that aside from the high research output, Wits is also one the highest producers of chief executive officers on the continent.

Habib quipped that no other University can have a soccer team, a game reserve, a partially private hospital, a five billion rand turnover and the privilege of esteemed leaders such as former President Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe having attended this campus. 

He also playfully told the prospective students  that, should they come to Wits,their gastronomical needs will be met because there are a few great restaurants at Wits.

Head of Residence, Rob Sharman also addressed the students. 

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