17 December 2018 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Supplied
Sport ablution South Cam
Sports ablution facilities at the South Campus will ensure universal access.

As part of its 2018 infrastructure expansion, the University of the Free State (UFS) launched three solar farms earlier this year. The solar farm in Bloemfontein is large enough to power up to 300 houses, while the Qwaqwa and South campuses had 750kWp ground-mounted solar systems installed. 

“The power generated from the solar systems will always take preference over the conventional Centlec power supply meaning less power will be used from the national grid,” said Maureen Khati, Assistant Director at Facilities Planning.

All these sites will be connected directly to the university’s medium voltage electrical grid, thus the power can be distributed to areas where needed. 

The year that was 

The solar farms formed part of 274 new developments which were planned for the year by the Department of University Estates. These covered all three campuses and the off-campus environment in some cases. Areas including sports and recreation, academic spaces, security, energy, electrical, property, and landscapes experienced major upgrades.

By the virtue of being an institution and given the growing population of the university, study areas have ascended to human rights status. This has warranted an additional 24/7 study space on the Bloemfontein Campus. This new development provided a necessary diversion of traffic from the Sasol Library Study Labs during the year-end exam period.

According to Khati: “The space accommodates 80 students and is a collaborative learning facility since it is divided into different compartments such as discussion rooms and a larger open study space which is safe to study for longer hours.”

A student housing unit with 268 beds was built in the South Campus to accommodate undergraduate students. A new University Estates building, sports ablution facilities on the South Campus, which includes universal access, and tutorial venues on the Qwaqwa Campus were also successfully completed.

Projects currently under way

A 252- and 255-bed student housing project that will be connected to the existing grey water system is in progress on the South Campus. The new intake of students for the next academic year will be treated to luxury student living equipped with a heat pump.

In addition, a new hockey Astro Turf field was constructed at the Bloemfontein Campus to supplement the already existing facility, and the Naval Hill telescope sculpture and a viewing platform were installed.

Looking to the future

The university has been granted funding by the Department of Higher Education and Training for three projects on the Qwaqwa Campus and an additional three at the Bloemfontein Campus. These projects include residences, Student Lecturing Assessment Centres, as well as Language Development Centres.

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