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Media statement by the Corporate Affairs Division at the Durban University of Technology

Media statement by the Corporate Affairs Division at the Durban University of Technology


This afternoon (Tuesday, 23 June 2015), Professor Ahmed Bawa, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the Durban University of Technology received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from his alma mater, Durham University in London.

“I am honoured to be recognised in this way by my peers. It is wonderful to share this time with my former professors, colleagues and friends. Members of my immediate family are here as well and that makes it very special for me. Our connection with Durham was not just through Physics, we felt as if we were adopted by the local trade union movement, the anti-apartheid movement and various others, so it is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends, comrades and physics colleagues,” said Prof Bawa from London.

Prof Bawa’s Honorary Doctorate was conferred at 13h00 CAT (11h00 am UK time) during the Summer Congregation Graduation Ceremony in recognition of his contribution to science and higher education.

Professor Bawa studied towards a PhD in Theoretical Physics at Durham University between 1986 and 1989 under the supervision of Professor James Stirling. He was a member of the Graduate Society of the University.

Durham University is ranked in the world’s top 100 universities for reputation, based on results of the Times Higher Education World Reputation Review Rankings 2015. In Theoretical Physics, it is also ranked as one of the best in the world as well as being the third oldest University in England. It is also the third oldest university in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge and has been a leading European centre of learning for 1,000 years.

Durham has always been a modern, forward-looking university, being one of the first universities to admit women on an equal footing to men (1890), establish medical training (1834) and the first to award Civil and Mining Engineering degrees to meet regional and national needs during the industrial revolution (1838). Durham led in the development of science and established one of the earliest observatories in England. Durham was also the first university to establish overseas campuses a century before the concept was reinvented.

Reacting to the news of being bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Science, Prof Bawa said it was unexpected. “I feel very honoured and the announcement came as a complete surprise to me. I truly had no idea. I shall receive this award in the name of DUT. Part of my trip will entail discussions of possible partnerships with DUT and Durham University. I really think of Durham as home. My family and I spent three years there and we’ve returned there periodically. We have lots of friends there who will all be at the ceremony. Most of all, I am really looking forward to the tradition of procession through the city with some of my professors in the procession,” he said excitedly.

Prof Bawa’s wife, Dr Rookaya Bawa, also studied at Durham University, completing her Master’s Degree in Education at the College of St. Hilde and St Bede. His daughters, Nadya and Mishal, started their schooling there.

Last year, during the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, Prof Bawa was invited to Durham University to give the Annual Ruth First Scholarship Fund Lecture. He added that besides using the opportunity, when he is in Durham, to visit the Physics Department and his colleagues there, he will also rekindle his relationship with the Ruth First Scholarship Fund (the Ruth First Educational Trust provides opportunities for students from Southern Africa to undertake postgraduate study at Durham University) which he was part of when he was studying there.

“My connection with Durham University is not just academic but I had a very strong connection with the trade union movement and organisations such as the Independent Labour Party, the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Workers’ Revolutionary Party. I was also involved in the work of the Durham Anti-Apartheid Movement which was very active at that time,” he said.

High res pics of Prof Bawa are available on request.

Issued by:

Sinegugu Ndlovu
Communications Department
Durban University of Technology
031 373 2845