07 March 2018 Photo Xolisa Mnukwa
UJ to benchmark Kovsie CUADS operational services
UJ Disability unit delegates Alban Burke and Leila Abdul Gafoor join UFS CUADS Assistant director, Martie Miranda and Dean of Student Affairs, Pura Mgolombane for a discussion on the operative aspects of the UFS Center for Universal Access and Disability Support.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Psychological Services and Career Development Department is looking to enhance the quality of services provided by its disability unit. Team leader of the Psychological Services division at (PsCAD): Leila Abdul Gafoor said University of the Free State (UFS) was on its list of targets when it boiled down to possibly benchmarking and sharing the Center for universal access and disability support (CUADS) service structures and operational procedures that could aid a more pleasant and complete university experience for students with disabilities at UJ.

Director of PysCad at UJ, Alban Burke, considered one of the strengths of his department to be its ability to serve as a hot-stop for their students with academic opportunities that could assist them financially, psychologically, intellectually and perceptually. He did, however, point out that one of their main challenges lies in their difficulty sourcing capital and resources that are exclusive to the disability unit within his department which is very expensive to operate and sustain. 

Dean of Student Affairs, Pura Mgolombane, started his response to PysCad delegates with the question: “Which strategies should be operationalised in order to cater for the core needs of students?” He said the strategy should inform the operational structure that a university employs. Thus, the strategy should centre universal access as the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) intended it, and in that way the structure would need to support the notion of universal access; and therefore address student needs. The UFS is currently undergoing a phase of integrated transformation which Mgolombane explained which among other things, demanded avid preparations towards ensuring that universal access was prioritised. 

Martie Miranda, Assistant Director for CUADS, clarifies that CUADS considered repositioning its office beneath academics due to a majority of their occupational services comprising of academic support for students with disabilities. However, due to Student Affairs’ newly developed “humanising strategic model” the centre remained put as they are being afforded efficient opportunity to change mindsets, and create an institutional culture which endorses the humanising of students with disabilities as well.

Mgolombane said in order for an institution to deliver sufficient universal access, students’ needs and experiences had to be considered and prioritised from conception. The planning and future implementation should not serve as an afterthought when allocating financial, human, physical and other resources to the various university environments. 

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