UKZN held its first virtual Parents’ Day to welcome first-year students and their parents to the 2021 academic year.
In his welcome address, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, thanked parents and students for choosing to study at the ‘most transformed of the research intensive universities in the country with the mandate to develop the next generation of leaders of our countries.
‘You have chosen one of the best universities in the country and on the continent. We hope you will achieve the very best you can and it’s our role to enable you to do that by assisting you every step of the way.
‘To parents, thank you for encouraging your children to come to us. This is a poignant moment as your children head out into the world, propelled by your years of care and nurture, your high hopes and tender concerns,’ said Poku.
He assured the students that precautions have been taken to ensure that the University is a safe environment.
Chief Financial Officer, Ms Nontuthuko Mbhele presented a brief breakdown of the current fees for students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and for international students. She said that registration fees needed to be paid by 1 April 2021 and that they form the first of the three annual payments made towards the 2021 fees. The second payment is to be made before 23 April 2021, with the final payment by 31 August 2021. She added that interest will be charged on overdue amounts.
Mbhele urged parents to only use the UKZN banking details available from the University website or any Standard Bank. She warned parents and students to be aware of scams and not to pay people to secure places at the University.
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Mosa Moshabela said that this is a difficult time for the country and the world, and while we are not out of the woods yet, he is excited about the prospects of COVID-19 interventions.
He added the University has decided that for the first half of the year, most learning will take place online but space has been created for students that need to be on campus. Those allowed back on campus include students who need to be there for clinical assessments and rotations, and practicals, those who have difficulty with WIFI connections, and those whose living conditions are not conducive for learning.
Moshabela said some of the most senior students have returned to campus and that all first-year students are expected to return by 1 April when learning starts. The University will ensure that they are oriented properly on campus and receive their learning material. He added that health and safety protocols have been put in place and that UKZN is working closely with the Department of Health.
Student Services Senior Director, Professor Fikile Mazibuko highlighted the Division’s core services that add value to the academic project. These includes departments that oversee student residences, campus clinics, sports clubs and societies, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the disability unit and student funding.
She assured parents that the University complies with international, national and institutional COVID-19 protocols to ensure that their children will be both supported and protected while at UKZN.
‘The current global changes are not only about gloom and negative challenges but also about great opportunities in the 21st century. At UKZN, your daughters and sons will have an opportunity to explore an exciting future. Thank you for making UKZN your university of choice,’ said Mazibuko.
SRC President, Mr Siyabonga Moses Nkambako welcomed the first-years and assured them that the SRC will be there to support them with any difficulties they might face. He discussed the upcoming Right to Learn campaign which will orient students on Moodle, and help them to get to know the University as well as how they should conduct themselves while at the University and in residences.
Nkambako asked parents to remind their children about the need to respect their peers, lecturers and the entire University community. He wished the students and parents all the best for the 2021 academic year.
Words: Sithembile Shabangu
Photograph: UKZN Archives