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09 October 2018 | Story UFS | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Johan Venter monitors an experiment during a Chemistry magic
Prof Johan Venter monitors an experiment during a ‘Chemistry magic’ demonstration at the launch of the new laboratory on the South Campus.

“This facility is proof of the belief, dedication, and willingness to create teaching and learning facilities, as well as the environment to secure successful studies for deserving students after their South Campus year, by laying a firm foundation.” These were the words of Francois Marais, Manager: Extended Curriculum Programmes, at the opening of a new Chemistry laboratory on the UFS South Campus. He added: “The culmination of this project is the result of sacrifice, hard work, and outstanding academic leadership.”

The lab came into being as a result of a pressing need for laboratory space to accommodate Chemistry students on the Bloemfontein and South campuses. Elzmarie Oosthuizen, Manager: Teaching and Learning in the faculty, discerned this need, formulated a plan, and submitted it to the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Danie Vermeulen. Since limited funds were available and a new building was not financially feasible, Mrs Oosthuizen suggested converting existing space on the South Campus into an appropriately equipped laboratory to relieve the additional strain on existing laboratories on the Bloemfontein Campus.

At the launch of the lab, Prof Vermeulen thanked the management and team effort of the Department of Chemistry for their enthusiasm, optimism, and positive attitude, which made it possible to establish the laboratory in a very short time.

Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), said: “This lab is a masterpiece of the South Campus. The University of the Free State is on a mission to improve and enhance our level of excellence in the field of academia. That is what academia is all about   to continually strive to be the best. That is why our vision is to be a research-led, student-centred, and regionally engaged institution.” He further said the value system through which this would be achieved, was development within the context of a social-justice framework.

Prof Walter Purcell, Head of the Department of Chemistry, mentioned that this new lab would bring about a 23% reduction in the number of first-year students who have to perform Chemistry practicals each week, resulting in fewer sessions being presented per week. “This has eliminated the need for evening sessions and the associated travel and safety issues for students who have to commute.”

By the launch date on 28 September 2018, 1 326 practical sessions had already been presented in the new laboratory.

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