UFH officially opens for its 107th Academic Year and welcomes 2023 first-years cohort

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“The fact that you are here means that you are good enough and have the intelligence to become great.”

With these words of affirmation, the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu officially welcomed the 3500 first year students to the University.

The 2023 Official Academic Opening event was held today, 13 February, on the University’s main campus in Alice, five days after the University celebrated its 107th anniversary. In his keynote address, the VC reflected on the past year and set the  tone for the current year. The 2023 week-long Orientation Programme dubbed “Wamkelekile Fresher” kicked-off soon after the opening ceremony. 

Reflecting on the past year, the VC said: “During my time as VC, the 2022 Academic Year was one of the best. We achieved many great things such as our Finance Department obtaining a clean audit outcome - for the first time in many decades; winning the Varsity Shield Cup – a first for the University and the international recognition we received from our international peers due to our excellence.”

In 2022, the University also forged several strategic partnerships such as the collaborations with the Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to conduct research into the effectiveness of Local Economic Development (LED) agencies and a partnership with the Eastern Cape Provincial Council of Churches. The institution also made its debut on the Times Higher Education ranking.

“Our academic enterprise has become stronger, credit goes to the academics and administrators and all those who are involved in ensuring that we continue being a centre of excellence.”

The VC also confidently declared the University’s financial stability saying: “When you clamp down on rogue behavior and put plugs on leakages on those holes, the kitty gets healthier. Tribute goes to the staff for carrying this place even under deadly circumstances. We lost colleagues and friends in our path to uproot corruption. We remain resilient because we are committed to this University.” This declaration was met with resounding applauses from staff and students.

Setting the tone for the current academic year, Prof Buhlungu dedicated this year to forging meaningful partnerships that will further enhance and transform the future of the University and increase placement opportunities for students.

The VC also gave a positive update on the new niche areas that the University has identified which are Animal Health, Dairy Science and Veterinary Science. “The three Deputy Vice-Chancellor and I, recently met with Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza where we discussed how and what steps needed to be taken to realize these areas. The matter is now a cabinet decision. Having these new niche areas is something we always aspired to, and in the past, we were told we were not ready for this. Now we are ready.”

Prof Buhlungu also declared this year as the year of sporting excellence and posed a challenge to the Dean of Student Affairs, Lufuno Tshikudo to make use of the swimming pool to teach students swimming skills. “There is no reason why our students should not be proficient in swimming when we have a pool almost as big as an Olympic pool.”

He also urged the Dean to facilitate a programme that will assist student to acquire driver’s licenses. “When our students graduate, we want them to have their degree in their hand and a driver’s license in their pocket.”

Beaming with excitement, Hlanganani Tsiletsi, one of the 2023 Fresher, said choosing Fort Hare has always been his first option. “I got two university acceptance letters and I chose UFH because this is where I want to be. This is a home of legends.”

Wamkelekile Fresher!