Registrar’s report

30 October 2023 Read time 6 min.
Royston Pillay, registrar <b>Photo</b> Lerato Maduna.
Royston Pillay, registrar Photo Lerato Maduna.

In reviewing the 2022 academic year, my colleagues and I are especially proud of every graduate from the University of Cape Town (UCT). We have seen so many students persevere under the extremely difficult conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the necessity of studying remotely during lockdown. Students who began their programme of study in 2019 endured particular challenges during most of their academic career – demonstrating fortitude and a commitment to excel despite obstacles.

We were thrilled to be able to resume in-person graduation ceremonies in 2022. UCT conferred degrees and diplomas on 5 913 graduands, including 244 doctoral candidates. Every one of these academic awards is the fruit of hard work. In most cases, this commitment is not only on the part of the students concerned but also the family members, as well as faculty members and professional staff, who have assisted students on their education journey in so many ways. Many of our graduates are the first in their families to attain a university qualification. This makes their accomplishment even more significant and aligns very well with the ambitions expressed in UCT’s Vision 2030 strategic plan.

A doctoral degree is especially significant. The generation of new knowledge and its contribution towards supporting South Africa’s development is critically important. This generation of knowledge expands the global bank of knowledge that humanity draws on to address the many challenges we face around the world. In this way, South Africa and UCT are bringing our influence on international issues and contributing at the level that UCT is known for and proud of.

In 2022 UCT conferred honorary degrees on eight outstanding individuals.  

  • Rob Adam for his contributions to the advancement of science and technology, including his leadership of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope in South Africa.
  • Franklin Berman QC for his contribution to the development of international law and international dispute resolution and his service as an ad hoc judge of the International Court of Justice.
  • Geoff Budlender, whose work to reincorporate homelands into the new South Africa, and in the revision and reform of various laws, set an international precedent now followed by other countries.
  • Trevor Jones, who started life in District Six and has since composed more than 120 scores for film and television. He was nominated by Time magazine as one of the top five film composers in the world.
  • Khaya Mfenyana, who has made life-long contributions to community-based healthcare training, in addition to his research and teaching in family medicine.
  • Kaizer Motaung, who founded the renowned Kaizer Chiefs Football Club and played a crucial role in the establishment of the South African Premier Soccer League.
  • Public health leader Laetitia Rispel, the South African Research Chair for Research on Health Workforce for Equity and Quality at the University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Disability rights activist Mzolisi ka Toni, whose efforts to advance disability rights in South Africa culminated in the launch of the first Postgraduate Diploma in Disability Studies at UCT in 2003.

In addition to graduation rates, student enrolments provide an important marker of institutional success. The actual enrolment in 2022 was 29 958, comprising 17 858 undergraduate full-degree students, 3 216 postgraduate students below master’s level, 6 174 master’s students, and 2 238 doctoral enrolments. Occasional students made up the balance of enrolments. Once again, as in the previous two years, approximately one-third of enrolments were at the honours, master’s or doctoral levels. This underscores the university’s ongoing commitment to developing expertise and thought leadership in specific branches of knowledge. We also hope that advanced study will encourage more of our postgraduate students to consider a career in academia.

UCT and our graduates share these accomplishments with every supporter of the university, including donors, research partners, alumni, families and friends of UCT. I take this opportunity to thank each of you for contributing to the success of our university.

Royston Pillay

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