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Change the world


Nelson Mandela University was a hive of activity on Saturday, 3 February when hundreds of first year students, their families and guardians descended on the Indoor Sport Centre on South Campus in Gqeberha, to be welcomed by Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa.


While Prof Muthwa officially opened the 2024 academic year, there was an air of nervous excitement on the part of students. Some indicated that university was a major step away from school, while it was “new beginnings” for them.

Prof Muthwa, whose address was livestreamed to other campuses, pointed out that the students were part of a fortunate few who had been accepted into first year.

“Our first-year students here today worked hard to qualify for access to higher education and for this we applaud them.

In this application cycle, we received almost 111 000 applications from prospective students, and you were selected as part of a cohort of approximately 7 200 first-time entering students for 2024. Congratulations!”

She explained that a distinctive feature of Mandela University is the dedication and commitment of our staff in “ensuring that we provide all students with every opportunity to succeed both within and beyond the classroom.

As a student-centric university, we embrace an inclusive, humanising educational philosophy, which seeks to create a nurturing and supportive learning environment that unleashes the full potential of all our students.”

An important dimension of promoting student success is ensuring that academically deserving, economically deprived students have access to financial aid. “As at the end of January 2024, more than 17 700 of our students had received firm offers for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and this number is expected to increase further over the next few weeks.”

Prof Muthwa said the University also welcomes the announcement by Government to provide funding for the so-called “missing middle” students, many of whom would not have been able to pursue higher education studies without this support. She urged students to “think and dream big, work hard, persevere in the face of adversity. Yes, adversity will be inevitable as you engage with learning, and with growing up. 

Always be respectful and considerate of others and be adaptable as you embrace the inevitability of change. These qualities will set you apart and ensure that you succeed.”

She appealed to students to be consistent in pursuing academic excellence, while also making use of co-curricular activities such as student societies, sport, arts and culture, entrepreneurship development, and community outreach opportunities. “In this way, you will exit the University with not only the qualification of your choice, but also a raft of graduate attributes that will equip you for success in life, and the world of work.”

The Vice-Chancellor stressed that, “you will serve as a beacon of hope for those who may not have enjoyed the privilege of pursuing further studies. Be generous in sharing the benefits of your education beyond the University and join hands with us as we seek to co-create pioneering solutions to the perpetual challenges confronting our society and the planet.”

On the George Campus, Senior Director, Dr Kaluke Mawila, together with academic and support staff welcomed parents and first year students to the campus. She encouraged students to be actively involved not only in the classrooms but also in communities surrounding the campus.

“Remember, each one of you brings a unique perspective and set of talents to our campus community. Whether you're interested in the sciences, business, sustainability and entrepreneurship, there's a place for you here to thrive and excel.”

The campus welcomed over 300 first year students and is expecting over 2995 students across its academic programmes.

Aarif, Moegamat and Rushda Vengadajullum; Rifumo Matukane; and Joshua Matthews (centre) with his parents Jacky and Grant. 

Joshua Matthews (19) a matriculant of Grey High is studying Human Movement Sciences.

“I’m interested in the body. This is a good way to get into Radiography and this is something I will be good at. I’m a little bit nervous. It’s a new beginning but it’s exciting.”

His delighted father Grant said Joshua is first in the family to attend university and this brings with it many opportunities to seize.

Rifumo Matukane (18) who matriculated from Khanyisa Education Centre in Limpopo is studying Civil Engineering. He said he prefers the lifestyle in GQ as opposed to Johannesburg and Pretoria, where there are many nightclubs and life is too fast.

“My friends said it is beautiful here. I am here to focus on my studies and am very excited about a new life and change of scenery. But I am concerned about how to adjust and make new friends, as I don’t speak isiXhosa.”

Moegamat Assim Vengadajullum (19) is pursuing a BCom Marketing, as his father works in retail “so business is in the blood. I’m so happy to be here”.

His father, Aarif said Moegamat made a sacrifice by taking a gap year last year to care for his mother who was ill. “This is a good, well-run university. I have friends who lecture here,” said Aarif.

Students and their families were entertained by a marimba band while the Feet on fire hip hop group received a roar of applause with their dance moves. 

There were breakaway sessions for students and their families to meet the Executive Deans and staff of their respective faculties.

Contact information
Primarashni Gower
Director: Communication & Marketing
Tel: 0415043057