The lessons from COVID-19 in terms of our approach to learning and teaching, research and innovation, and engagement are assisting us in achieving resilience during and beyond the pandemic. Our Faculty of Science strategy is ahead of its time as it embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and it speaks to how students will learn and be taught in the future as the reality of learning anywhere, anytime is a global feature of the 4IR.

In our 2020 - 2030 Strategy we foreground the need to advance technology-assisted learning. This speaks to the future of work and it is important for our students to navigate technology-assisted learning with positive attitude. Those who survive online learning will be far better equipped in their future careers which will require graduates who can navigate the digital and technological spaces they will be working in, including mixed reality, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

As a Faculty we encourage and facilitate the increased use of eLearning, eResearch and eEngagement. We regard these as essential skills for all our students and staff, and we need to make sure that all our students are included.

Our 2020 - 2030 Strategy and Organisational Redesign is proactive about what is needed and relevant to these times. It calls for the establishment of a range of new entities, including a Digitalisation Unit to advance online learning and teaching, research and training as well as engagement and partnerships.

Our Strategy and Organisational Redesign further ensures that our clusters are transdisciplinary and engaged at all levels. Our new Biosciences and Biotechnology cluster, for example, is a stark reminder of the need to think ahead and that our Faculty is thinking ahead to help tackle the challenges of our time, including pandemics and crises like COVID-19, which we are currently doing in collaboration with other faculties.

To assist online learning going forward, the Faculty of Science computational forum has organised virtual seminars in the form of webinars on the use of different learning and teaching online tools such as Mathematica and MATLAB.

No student will be left behind and it is very important that students who have not been able to pursue the multiple curriculum pathways offered during the pandemic, should contact their lecturers and Faculty immediately. The end-goal of our Faculty and University, emphasised during lockdown, is that our students must be able to complete their modules this year, and we commit to walking this unchartered road together.

We look forward to welcoming the Class of 2021 and we wish you great success, happiness and fulfilment at our University.

Looking to the future, we are all compelled to think out of the box as Einstein did if we want to better understand our world and universe and to contribute to a better world. We are living in terrifying times but we are also living in times with a wide open future for change.