Dr Sizwe Mabizela's Welcome Message


  VC portrait for 2022

It is with much delight that I welcome you, our new students, to Rhodes University.  Hearty congratulations on earning your place at this great University. You have been selected from thousands of applicants who also wanted to pursue their higher education studies at Rhodes University. Your academic success and achievements at school and personal sacrifices have secured you a place at this fine university. This is now your university, Well done and warm congratulations.

If you have been counting days to the start of your exciting new experience at Rhodes University, we too have been awaiting your arrival with much excitement and anticipation. You are about to embark on an important and exciting adventure of a lifetime – a journey of self-discovery, growth and development.

You are part of a very special cohort of young people who have joined Rhodes University in the year that we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the founding of our University. This is a significant milestone in the history of our University. You will be part of the year-long events that will mark the tremendous achievements of this truly distinctive university with a long history of achievement and a rich legacy of academic excellence.

Our University enjoys the best pass and graduation rates of any South African university. We have outstanding postgraduate success rates and enjoy one of the best research outputs per academic staff member of any South African university. Our academics are at the forefront of knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination in their fields of research. They are recognised by their peers around the globe as world leaders and experts in their research fields. This means that, even at undergraduate level, you may be taught by academics who are actively engaged in creating and disseminating new knowledge. You have chosen wisely indeed!

We are proud of, and strive to, maintain our reputation as an outstanding university that provides high quality formative education in a small, intimate and nurturing environment which is conducive for academic endeavours and building a sense of community for its students. At Rhodes University we do not just equip our graduates with technical skills for jobs; we educate and prepare them for a future – a future that is uncertain; a future that is unpredictable; a future that is unknown and unknowable; a future that is complex; a future that is constantly changing. We educate, prepare and nurture responsible and engaged global citizens who are able to cope with, and thrive in, uncertainty and change.

Through our in-classroom and out-of-classroom activities we shall endeavour to develop you as a whole person, fully equipped with our graduate attributes of a life-long learner; an ethical leader; a digitally competent graduate; a curious and innovative thinker and problem-solver; an empathetic person and a critical and engaged global citizen.

A university is a space for contestation of ideas. Ideas are the lifeblood of our intellectual endeavour. And so, not only do we expose our students to new knowledge, technical skills and competences, we also develop and nurture their ability and capacity to reason, analyse, reflect and argue using knowledge and evidence. As a research-intensive university, our approach to teaching and learning is one that seeks to expose our students to the nature of knowledge and induct them into the intricacies and mysteries of creating new knowledge and adapting or applying old knowledge in new contexts.  This will prepare you to make contribution in many and diverse fields of human endeavour ranging from science, innovation, corporate sector to justice and social upliftment.

During your time at Rhodes University, you may find yourself challenged by ideas that are unfamiliar or that take you out of your comfort zone – open yourself to these challenges. Do not be afraid to enter alien territory or to explore new horizons. While your education will be nurturing and affirming, it will also challenge you to interrogate the world you inhabit and the views and perspectives that you may hold dear.

Rhodes University is a learning community dedicated to furthering the public good.  We learn from and through each other, and for us learning extends beyond a lecture theatre, seminar room, library, or laboratory. It also occurs in sports fields, social clubs, student societies, extra-curricular activities and through participation in community engagement initiatives. Your involvement in these and other activities outside of the classroom setting is essential for your holistic development, growth and education. You must however learn to balance your academic demands, extracurricular activities and social life in order to become a well-rounded and well-educated graduate of Rhodes University who is able to engage critically, meaningfully and responsibly with all aspects of life.

One of the exciting aspects of the university experience is the opportunity to meet and interact with other young people who come from different social, economic, geographic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This diversity is essential to create a vibrant intellectual, social and cultural environment which is key to achieving academic excellence and personal growth and development.   Our University works hard to create a caring and supportive institutional culture and an affirming and supportive environment which values and celebrates diversity and respects and appreciates individual differences. We encourage you to keep an open mind and be willing to share your ideas, perspectives, views and experiences with other students in a manner that is respectful and enhances one’s understanding of what it means to be fully human. In this way, you will grow and develop as a person and as a member of our community, which, in turn, will enhance our collective growth and development and broaden your education. More important, we encourage you to form new bonds of friendship with other young people whose lived experiences may be different to yours.

As an institution “where leaders learn” and, with the motto Vis Virtus Veritas (Truth, Virtue and Strength), we encourage our students to develop their capacity to raise critical, complex and uncomfortable issues that face our society and humankind in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Using the power of reasoned and rational argument and logic, they can persuade those who may hold views that are different to theirs. We encourage our students to endeavour at all times to uphold the values that we cherish deeply at Rhodes University: treating each other with respect, courtesy, dignity and honesty.  Every member of the Rhodes University community enjoys all the rights enshrined in our Constitution. In particular, no one has a right to interfere with the bodily integrity of another person without their consent. Our University has a zero tolerance to sexual and gender-based harm. There is no place at Rhodes University for any behaviour motivated by xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and any other form of intolerance, bigotry and chauvinistic attitude.

This is an important time of transition for you – from school to university and to being a young adult. This transition, change and adjustment can be equally exciting and daunting and overwhelming. As a university student, you will enjoy much more freedom and independence. Freedom and independence come with responsibility. Decisions that you make and actions that you take have consequences. We are here to ensure that this transition is both manageable and enjoyable for you. Our academic and support staff are here to support and guide you; they are here to help you realise your dreams, hopes and aspirations; they are here to help you navigate the important transition into adulthood; they are here to make your university experience a positive, rewarding and a fulfilling one. As a small University with dedicated, committed and professional staff, we are able to offer that personal touch that may make a difference in your life. We encourage you to use all the professional assistance and support services available to you.

Use your time at Rhodes wisely and productively; discover your passion and find your purpose in life. Develop a work ethic from the get-go; set goals and standards of excellence for yourself. Develop a sense of self-discipline, focus and commitment. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. University study is much more demanding and challenging than school. It requires you to develop the ability for independent study, persistence and dedication. Work hard and consistently.

The University’s Orientation Programme is designed not only to provide you with information on courses that are on offer at Rhodes University, but also to expose you to a wide range of support services and opportunities provided by the University to enrich your experience and enhance your chances of growth, development and academic success. The Orientation Programme is also designed to help you settle quickly and smoothly in campus life and in your studies.

May your new experiences at our University unleash your full potential and inspire you to discover your unique self and the role that you can play in the betterment of our society and humankind.

We wish you much success in the years ahead. Welcome to a place that inspires imagination, welcome to a place that awakens curiosity, welcome to a place that nurtures creativity, welcome to a place where ideas matter, welcome to a place of hope, welcome to a place of opportunity for all and welcome to a place where leaders learn! Welcome to Rhodes University!


Dr Sizwe Mabizela

Vice Chancellor Rhodes University



Last Modified: Thu, 07 Dec 2023 15:01:32 SAST