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06 August 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Karen Lazenby WomenofKovsies
Dr Karen Lazenby strives for a stronger, rule-based, and consistent governance structure.

A transformed University of the Free State (UFS) will be one that promotes social justice in everything it does, a university where its diverse people feel a sense of common purpose and engagement. The UFS is developing this through its Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) introduced in January 2017. 

“The majority of the current systems and processes in student administration at the university are still manual. This lack of automation leads to inconsistencies and service failures,” says Dr Karen Lazenby. As Registrar for Systems and Administration, Dr Lazenby is responsible for ensuring a smooth and efficient student lifecycle across all three campuses. 

With the ITP, the Governance: Systems and Administration work stream strives to have a stronger, rule-based, and consistent governance structure with a single line of accountability in student administration across all faculties and relevant support departments on the three campuses. By ensuring this ease of use and access there will be an integrated student experience and greater empowerment of students.

“Our focus is on automation and self-services for students (such as the time-table, requests for additional and ad hoc exams and appeals), to ensure transparency and accessibility of rules and policies, decisions relating to admission, progression rules, awarding of qualifications and graduation and faculty and general rules,” Dr Lazenby said.  It will also entail the optimisation of PeopleSoftCampus (the Enterprise Resource Planning system).

“Through this automation, I would also like to get the university’s student administration to such a level that academic staff can focus their energy on teaching and research and student administration staff can focus more on quality assurance,” said Dr Lazenby.

News Archive

Up to 60% of students do not have enough to eat
2013-11-15

 

15 November 2013

A report of the University of the Free State has revealed the shocking statistics that almost two-thirds of the students at the university don’t have enough money to buy food, and suffer from hunger during terms.

The study, conducted internally by the university’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, was a response to a growing international concern that students worldwide were not getting enough to eat. While studies were conducted in the USA and Australia, no similar research has been done in South Africa.

“There have been many studies on the impact of poor nutrition on school kids,” says Dr Louise van den Berg, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, “but almost no research on university students. South Africa is, overall, a food-insecure country, and the university wanted to establish how widespread this problem is among our students.”

The reasons given by students invariably referred to a lack of money, as many students were also supporting families. Some students admitted they lacked the knowledge to feed themselves properly, some admitted to borrowing money to buy food, and some even admitted to stealing food to survive.

“This research has confirmed something we have suspected for a long time,” Dr van den Berg states.

A number of students disclosed that they were reluctant to resort to the university feeding scheme, as they were ashamed to admit they did not have money to buy food.

This study is the first of its kind in South Africa, and underlines the fact that tertiary students are particularly vulnerable when it comes to food security. Often a student has to juggle their studies with their role as breadwinner.

A tiny ray of hope to students who find themselves as food insecure, is the No Student Hungry Programme that offers a food bursary to qualifying students.

This programme, initially established by Prof Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, and now managed by Grace Jansen and Karen Buys, offers a small allowance of about R30 per day to hungry students with an average academic achievement of 60% and above. This criterion discourages entitlement thinking and builds a strong sense of responsibility on the part of those who benefit from the food bursary.

Melanie, a second-year Geography and Environmental Management student, as well as a single mother, is a beneficiary of the NSH Programme. “This bursary helps me to get a balanced meal every day. It is one less worry for me. I dream of completing my studies so that I can be independent and provide my son with the life he deserves.”

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