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Unisa's VC recognised for significantly shifting the higher education landscape

When Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Unisa's Principal and Vice-Chancellor (VC), assumed her role at the university, her goal was set to reposition Unisa at the top tier of tertiary education institutions in South Africa – and on the continent. In this regard, significant shifts have been made and continue unfolding to reposition Unisa as a notable contributor to society on numerous fronts.


Prof Ramneek Ahluwalia, Chief Executive Officer of Higher Health, presents Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Unisa VC with an award.

With her goal and implementation plans in place, Unisa's contributions under LenkaBula's leadership in teaching, learning, research, community engagement and societal impact have gained international recognition in recent years. The consistent march up the academic rankings serves as evidence.

In news that further affirms Unisa's stature whilst illuminating LenkaBula's impactful leadership, Prof Ramneek Ahluwalia, Chief Executive Officer of Higher Health, recently presented LenkaBula with an award in recognition of Unisa's unwavering commitment to fostering students' health, development, well-being and psychological support. Ahluwalia told the VC: "Your efforts serve as a beacon of  inspiration for the entire academic community."

Holistic student support

As Unisa students pursue their academic goals, the university has invested in world-class support services to enhance their learning experience. These range from counselling services, health and wellness programmes, student funding and dedicated services to support students with disabilities.

As recognised by Higher Health, Unisa's student support services go beyond teaching and learning in the classroom. The university's student support service addresses students' diverse needs and challenges in higher education. Therefore, the Higher Health award affirms Unisa's commitment and contribution to holistically shaping futures in the service of humanity. The VC has always underscored the need to become student-centric. In her inaugural address, LenkaBula said: "When you live in a country where youth and young adults might fall through the cracks because of their economic condition, we must invest in solutions to these critical or grand challenges of our times." In this regard, student support services are a crucial part of LenkaBula's vision to lead a university that caters to students beyond the classroom.


The Black Business Council and Higher Health awards in recognition of Prof LenkaBula and Unisa as significant contributors to the higher education landscape.

Herstoric leadership

Further affirming the numerous significant shifts unfolding at Unisa under the leadership of LenkaBula, the Black Business Council (BBC) recently presented the VC with the Game Changer Award in recognition of her appointment as the first female Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university. In this regard, the BBC acknowledged LenkaBula's appointment and her leadership as a herstoric moment for both Unisa and the country as she became the first womxn, the first black womxn and only the third black person to be appointed as the head of Unisa in its more than 147 years of existence at the time.

In the short period LenkaBula has been VC, Unisa has, under her leadership, significantly repositioned to become a centre of academic excellence and an impactful contributor in the global knowledge arena.  

* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Editor: Internal Communications, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2024/05/09

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