On Monday, 05 February 2024, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda (UNIVEN), Prof Bernard Nthambeleni officially opened the 2024 academic year in an event that took place at the University Stadium. A special word of welcome was extended to the first-time entering students who made UNIVEN a university of their choice. “I hope that you will take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you and to successfully complete your degree programmes within the stipulated period,” expressed the Vice-Chancellor and Principal.
The official opening ceremony marked the commencement of the 2024 academic year of the University. However, at its special meeting on 05 February 2024, the Executive Committee Senate, SENEX resolved that the commencement of 2024 University academic activities should be postponed from Monday, 05 February 2024, to Monday, 12 February 2024, to allow the processes of admission and registration for first entering students and the allocation of rooms for off-campus residences to be finalised. Classes will then commence on Monday, 12 February 2024.This does not apply to classes relating to the Faculty of Health Sciences, which have already commenced.

The official opening was followed by the Vice-Chancellor’s Annual Student Academic Excellence Awards that are meant to celebrate the top academic student achievers and present them with certificates, cash awards and trophies. These are well deserved awards in recognition of many long hours spent studying. Prof Nthambeleni maintained that it is common knowledge that we are a rural-based University with its own unique offering to various stakeholders and giving us a competitive edge for teaching and learning, research, and community engagement opportunities. Outcomes from these experiences remain channelled to maximise our profile and positioning.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal said, “With concerted efforts, internally as teams, and externally with various stakeholders, UNIVEN has great potential to achieve the perceived role of an “entrepreneurial university.” Our muscle lies in all our stakeholders, students, staff, alumni, donors, media, and communities that we serve. Our adopted performance plans give details to the extent in which we are tasked to influence outcomes of our strategic objectives. We are grateful of our involvement in the reconfiguration of the development within our province.”
He further indicated that our University is guided by the Strategic Plan (2021-2025) to prepare graduates that are locally relevant but globally competitive to ensure that we are positioned for impact and relevance.
He reported that over the past 40 years, the University has produced many icons and captains of various industries. “We boast success in our slogan “creating future leaders,” and still hope to do this with great pride.”
Having been ranked among the top universities in South Africa, our aim is to raise the bar in various aspects of University management, with the determination to make UNIVEN one of the top universities by 2030. We are harnessing all available opportunities to grow our offering in the Science, Engineering and Agriculture taking advantage of our locality in terms of niche offering.

Prof Nthambeleni thanked everyone for all their efforts throughout the 2023 academic year. “The success of our University is built on your efforts as dedicated staff, the many successes we have seen and enjoyed is due to you.” He expressly commended the University management and student leadership stating, “students concerns are always a high priority for the University executive management.”
Furthermore, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal gave a reflection and presented the analysis of the University performance over the past year. “Our staff, students and other strategic stakeholders have shown faith and commitment in making UNIVEN to achieve all the greater milestones.” In some of the notable achievements, Prof Nthambeleni noted a host of successes and research awards earned by UNIVEN 125 researchers who are doing exceptionally well in research, teaching, and learning as well as community engagement. These academic staff members and researchers were awarded during the University’s 2023 Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards ceremony that took place in September 2023. The excellence awards aim to recognize staff who have delivered exceptional, professional service and are further intended to encourage performance excellence. Additionally, Prof Nthambeleni reported that a considerable major progress had been made in terms of infrastructure development.

The Vice Chancellor and Principal continued to highlight that this year, 2024, UNIVEN will embark on the development of the new Strategic Plan with engagements of internal and external stakeholders. This new Strategic Plan will be effective from 2026 to 2030 and will take account the deliverables of the UNIVEN Integration Entrepreneurship and Innovation Biodiversity Plan (UIEIBP).
Director of Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning (CHETL), Dr Lindiwe Mulaudzi gave a brief background of the Vice-Chancellor’s Student Academic Excellence Awards. The prizes were awarded to the following categories: First year, Second- and Third-year students. In terms of prizes, recipients received cash, certificate and a trophy.A second-year student in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture, Mr Ditshepiso Daniel Mamabolo who is doing BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology was announced the Best Overall student performer of the 2023 Vice-Chancellor`s Student` Academic Excellence Awards. He was doing ten modules. In his response, Mamabolo said he had set goals for himself that he wants to produce the best results on his academic record. He advised the fist entering students to always aim to be the best version of themselves, “set goals for yourselves and work towards achieving those goals. This achievement has taught me that nothing is impossible in life,” he said.
The main aim for the awards is to promote the culture of teaching and learning in all faculties. The awards are a recognition of hard work by both students and lecturers. These awards are awarded to students at the beginning of every academic year. This is to honour students’ outstanding performance of the previous year and to motivate all students to aim for the stars.

DVC Teaching and Learning, Prof Eucebious Lekalakala-Mokgele together with the Vice-Chancellor and Principal presided over these awards.DVC Research and Postgraduate Studies concurred with the Vice-Chancellor and Principal that we should all embrace diversity and that there is nothing that we can achieve without loving one another.
The official opening event was impressive because of the performance by the UNIVEN choir led by Dr Meisie Masakona-Madzivhandila.

Issued by: Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525/8710
Date: 05 February 2024

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