The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has awarded prestigious scholarships and bursaries worth a combined total of more than R156 million to 5294 top achieving students at the University during the University’s Annual Scholarships Awards Ceremony held at Westville campus’s Main Hall on 23 August.

The awards are in recognition of outstanding academic excellence and achievement in sport.

Scholarships are awarded on a fiercely competitive basis in which merit is the main criterion. The recipients of the awards are the very best among thousands of other hopefuls. These scholarships which are largely funded by the University and by donors demonstrate the calibre of students studying at UKZN.

Congratulating the recipients on their academic and sports achievements, UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said: ‘I know you will all excel in your future endeavours as young people. I know you will go out there and fly the flag of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and remember that success in life is not about getting ahead of other people but to be the best that you possibly can.’

Van Jaarsveld thanked the parents, guardians, families, benefactors and communities for supporting UKZN students to achieve and excel the way they have. ‘We salute you. You are investing in the future of our young people and the future of our country.’

Guest speaker, Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation Dr Molapo Qhobela commended the University for contributing to the national increase of research productivity and graduation rates and achieving the recent rankings.

He highlighted the increase in graduation rates by more than 75%, increase in doctoral numbers by 5000 per year, from a headcount enrolment of 450 000 students in 1994 to 950 000 in 2017, the increase in the number of young women, especially African female students from 53% in 1996 to 70% in 2017, increase from 970 doctoral graduates in 2002 to 2500 in 2017. He said the aim is to increase the number of doctoral graduates to 5000 per year.

He said the number of permanent academic staff with doctoral degrees has increased from 35% in 2004 to 50% in 2017.

Congratulating the recipients and University staff, Qhobela said: ‘We are privileged to serve you, we work for you. I hope that you will take this as a journey towards your endeavours of being true scholars.’

‘Our personal challenge is to find creativity and making the right choices to find ways of investing in excellent researchers and in particular exceptional young people because it is absolutely necessary to invest in that cohort to ensure our continued survival as universities and knowledge producers of the future.’

The scholarships were awarded in four categories which include people coming in at undergraduate; people already in undergraduate, postgraduate students and the Sport’s Scholarships.

Mr Sizwe Sidaza and Mr Sivashen Reddy were each awarded the Distinguished Student Awards. This most prestigious award is based on nominations from staff or students in the University. It recognises and rewards students for outstanding academic achievement coupled with excellence in community engagement or University service as reflected in the vision, mission and goals of the University.

Two awards are conferred  each year to the most talented, caring and exceptional graduates and young leaders from final year undergraduate or honours level who have been judged as being most exemplary in embodying the ideals and attributes that the University seeks to create in every graduate.

The Talent Excellence and Equity Scholarship is being offered for the third time to academic high achievers who intend to pursue an academic career at UKZN. This prestige award made from the University’s own funds enables the University to identify potential talent with the intention to grow the next generation of academics. The seven awards were made to students across the University’s four Colleges.

The prestigious Emma Smith Overseas Scholarship was awarded to two Master of Law students Ms Siddharthiya Pillay and Ms Claire Bronwyn Gillespie. The scholarship, funded by the family of CG Smith and named after Sir Charles George Smith’s wife Mrs CG Smith, provides postgraduate scholarship opportunities for top-performing female students, resident in eThekwini, to study abroad.

The Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship, named after the former first Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of KwaZulu-Natal is awarded to five top-ranked undergraduates proceeding from first-year to second-year of study in each of the four Colleges.

The prestige undergraduate scholarships, awarded to the three top-performing undergraduate students in the entire University.

Mr Sanav Singh from the School of Engineering is the top Undergraduate student receiving the Lawrence and Constance Robinson Scholarship which is awarded to the best undergraduate student in the entire University.

Bachelor of Law student Ms Zakiyya Reheman took second place receiving the Brenda M Gourley Scholarship.

Bachelor of Theology student Mr Pakama Plaatjies came in third place receiving the UKZN 100th Anniversary Scholarship.

The 2016 Distinguished Student Award recipient and this year’s Rick Turner Scholarship recipient, Mr James Ndlovu was the student guest speaker at the event.

He encouraged students to change their lives and those of the people around them. ‘It is the company that we keep that will determine the level of success that we get,’ he said.

View Gallery of Recipients:

Words by: Sithembile Shabangu

Gallery by: Rakshika Sibran