Orientation Week at Vaal University of Technology (VUT)

The SANRC visited Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in January 2020 in order to attend the orientation programme for first-year students. Having never visited the VUT campus before, we were excited to meet the VUT colleagues and students on their home ground. We received the warmest of welcomes from our VUT colleagues. Dr Corneli van der Walt and Ms Hazel Mtshontshi went all out to make us feel comfortable and at home.

Our intention with our orientation work is, above all, to support the orientation programmes being implemented by institutions. Toward that end, Annsilla Nyar made a presentation to the students about the importance of the orientation activities taking place. She encouraged students to participate fully in their university life. Above all, she reiterated the importance of reaching out for support when needed. The line-up of speakers following this presentation, bore testimony to the support systems that the university has in place for first-year students.

We set up an SANRC stand outside the marquee being used for the orientation programme. We gifted the students with highlighters and special laminated cards with tips for making the most of their orientation. We also hosted a giveaway of emoji cushions, which went down well with the students.

Our SANRC stand was used as a place to mix with the students and talk to them about their hopes and plans for their studies. Some students confided their fears that the university would not live up to the promises being made at orientation. We heard students express their feelings of anxiety and disorientation, while others showed great confidence in their ability to navigate their university journey. Some students talked freely about their ambitions to succeed at their studies. The students were generally curious about the SANRC. They asked lots of questions about the SANRC. They were pleased that a Centre existed to advocate for them as part of South Africa's first-year student population.

We hope to continue this orientation work at other universities in South Africa. Thank you, VUT.