31 March 2021

Students were also informed about the various support services offered on and off campus, and were provided with the necessary tools to empower them to make solid decisions on how to succeed at university. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thoko Mayekiso congratulated the learners on making it thus far and choosing to study at UMP.

“We will provide you with an environment that is conducive for studying and learning, and help you to take responsibility for your own development. It will be our responsibility to create a supportive environment that nurtures your enthusiasm and guides you to success. Our institution has done its utmost to invest in the latest technology, so that online learning can be optimized, and that you as students can enjoy the full benefit of all cyber platforms.

Professor Mayekiso added that the university has formed strong collaborations with other institutions of higher learning in neighbouring Eswatini and Mozambique, which enables UMP to offer its students unique opportunities.

“Great universities do not just happen – they are created by individuals who are always working at being better than they were yesterday. Thank you for choosing to be part of our remarkable learning community and pioneering journey.”

President of Student Representative Council, Ms Carol Magagula emphasized that UMP puts students at the centre of everything it does.

“Your experience here at UMP and your success is important to each and every member of staff and student leaders. Your arrival at university marks a new chapter in the story of your life As you start this long journey, remember that your parents or guardians and sponsors have invested a lot financially, materially and emotionally. They look forward to seeing you succeed. Society at large, expects even more,” she said.

Ms Magagula went on to explain that we live in a challenging world and that in order to succeed, we need to stand out from the rest; we need to be one step ahead of the game.

“UMP must produce captains of business, leaders of government and stewards of civil society who should find solutions to challenges of governance, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, civil strife, climate change, environmental degradation and more,” she continued.

“The time when universities were ivory towers preparing offices for ready-made blue collar jobs and offices are gone. There is no employment waiting. No one even knows what jobs will come up in 2030 and their requirements. Be prepared, therefore for careers that do not exist. We are thus preparing you for and unknown future.”


Teaching and Learning 
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning Professor Shirley Mthethwa Sommers shared several survival tips for making it through the first year at university. 

“There is a high failure rate amongst first year students, simply because they are unable to adapt to university life and the different pace it has to being in high school. There are a few basic things you can do to help you succeed in this new environment.”

SLEEP: “For many of you, this is going to be the first time away from home. It's going to be the first time in your own space with people who are your peers. The temptation is there to stay up all night socializing, meeting new people. But your brain is still developing and actually will not function properly if you do not get at least 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is vital to the brain.”

SAFETY: “We may be on Level One, but that does not mean the threat of the virus no longer exist. It is always there. Keep yourself safe. Keep your peers safe and keep our UMP communities safe. Wear your mask at all times, sanitize and keep your social distancing.

HEALTH: About 60% of your body is comprised of water. Make sure you drink enough water every day. Your brain needs it, as does your body! Eat balanced meals. You are away from home and no one is going to be telling you to eat your fruits and vegetables. You have to do it on your own

ENGAGE AND PARTICIPATE: “Engage in your classes. Ask questions. Don't suffer in silence if you don’t understand something. Raise your hand and ask a question.”

TIME MANAGEMENT “You have to schedule your time. You have to have time to sleep. You have to have time to eat. You have to have time to socialize. Use your time wisely!

Lastly, and most importantly, prof Sommers emphasized the importance of attending lectures and classes. “No one ever succeeds without attending classes, you have to attend classes, and you have to stay! I'm going to repeat this: You have to prioritize attending classes. That's the reason you came here.”


Living and Learning
The Dean of Students, Dr Paul Maminza and his team presented the development services offered by UMP, including the: Love My campus campaign and the university's compliance when it comes to COVID-19 protocols (social distancing, mask up, washing of hands and mostly avoiding overcrowded gatherings).

The university also offers screenings and testing. The new student were also equipped with information regarding student wellness and health programmes offered by UMP, which includes a variety of primary health care services to help keep students healthy. 

“I am privileged and honoured to serve you with the support of my fellow staff members in the Student Affairs Division. We commit to focus our leadership and energy on creating a healthy, safe, inclusive and vibrant environment where we promote a quality student life experience. We commit to create opportunities where you can maximize your personal potential while pursuing your educational dreams,” he said.

“We are committed to the provision of an environment that is conducive to the holistic development of students. As such we have consciously taken a decision to be a student centred division focussing on the holistic development of students through the provision of an environment that promotes an effective student governance system; vibrant sports and recreation services; and student-centred health and wellness services.”

“We are here for you if you encounter any unexpected obstacle along the way. It's our responsibility to help you to seize, reflect upon and integrate your diverse UMP experiences. I invite you to read more about our division and the available services that we have for our students.”

Some of the presentations were from Library and Information Services Centre, which aims to support and serve student's study needs. 

The week-long programme included presentations on the university’s rules and regulations. Registrar, Mr Sello Legodi, shared with first-years what they should know to enjoy a swift and successful academic journey with the university. Academic Staff Development Professional, Mr Trust Nkomo, also empowered with tips on how to succeed at university. This included information about exams, life on campus, the importance of attending classes, and time management when writing assignments. The orientation was rounded off with virtual tours of campus (CRC and Mentors). Moodle Training (Mentors and Tutors). The orientation programme also included guided tours of campus (CRC & Mentors) Moodle/ Basic Computer skills.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures supplied.