Attending a top South African university can prepare graduates for the future

Graduates who received their degrees at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) recent fall graduation ceremonies are among the 12% of South African students who gained access to higher education in the past the last decade.

UP is one of the largest producers of graduates in the country; its alumni represent 13.7% of Gauteng’s highly skilled workforce and 7.7% of South Africa’s highly skilled workforce. The University produces all of the country’s veterinarians, almost a third of all engineers and just under 15% of all doctors in South Africa. These numbers show that attending a highly ranked university is one of the best ways to set a graduate on a solid career path.

More than 12,000 qualifications were awarded at the fall graduation ceremonies held on the Hillcrest campus in April and May. Of these qualifications, 207 were doctorates, 1,399 were master’s degrees, 2,293 were specialist degrees and 1,169 were certificates. The PhD and MSc graduates that UP produces play an important role in contributing to the generation of knowledge and the creation of a new cohort of highly qualified scholars, researchers and professionals in South Africa.

Notably, the Faculty of Veterinary Science has opened a new chapter in the education of veterinary nurses in South Africa by conferring Diplomas in Veterinary Nursing (BVetNurs) to the country’s first batch of graduates. UP continues to seek innovative ways to increase student numbers, not only through in-person classes, but also through online-only programs and lifelong learning, which will benefit its own graduates as well as to graduates from other institutions who are employed in different industries.

In addition, providing educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and reversing the regressive effects of socio-economic backgrounds on academic achievement are national imperatives that UP has and will continue to address. Access for previously excluded groups has gradually improved year over year, with the percentage of black undergraduate students in contact increasing from 45.2% in 2012 to 61.5% in 2021. black postgraduates increased from 53.1% to 65.6% in the same period. Enrollment in science, engineering and technology fields of study for black students rose from 48.1% to 59%, also during the same period.

The University’s ongoing efforts to actively promote the success of its students have paid off. This year, UP’s final year accounting students achieved a pass rate of 99.4% on the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Initial Proficiency Test (ITC). SAICA administers two professional examinations; the ITC is the first of the two. Last year, the University’s final year students made history by achieving an unprecedented 100% pass rate. UP has had consistent pass rates, having achieved a first-time average pass rate of 94.6% in the past 15 years.

Students are proactively prepared not only for university life, but also for the world of work. The [email protected] (meaning the finish line is yours) initiative helps students complete their qualifications on time by providing academic support at various stages. The goal is for students to complete their education on time so they can get out into society and contribute to the economy while freeing up opportunities for others to continue their education.

Through its Ready for Work program, UP helps students transition from college to the world of work, preparing them for job interviews and teaching them how to navigate professional life, among other things. In 2012, the South African Graduate Employers Association awarded the program the Best Work Readiness Initiative award. UP also gives graduates the skills to start their own business. A free online entrepreneurship course is available for students, while TuksNovation, UP’s business incubator, provides world-class technology development and entrepreneurial support for start-ups.

This year, UP launched the final part of its five-year strategic plan ahead of the final stage of its current strategy, UP 2025. The University’s strategic goals include achieving student access and success, conducting high quality research for greater societal impact, global recognition and increased diversity, equity and inclusion as well as institutional sustainability.

The University’s forward-thinking approach was most recently evident in the launch of its Center for the Future of Work, which will help companies sustain their workforce by determining what they need to employees retrain and upskill for the future of work.

UP’s graduates, scholars, and scholars will continue to shape policy reform, create conditions of peace and prosperity, and enable members of its academic community to thrive and reach their full potential.

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