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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence
2017-06-07

Description:First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence Tags: First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence

Ladies from the House Harmony, a unique residence
that focuses on first-years’ experience.
Photo: Supplied

A unique residence that focuses on first-years’ experience, is exactly what Harmony sets out to provide for all first-year students at the University of the Free State.

A residence focusing on mentoring

Entering the adult world can be a daunting experience, but Harmony, unlike other residences on campus, focuses on mentoring. Harmony came to life in 2014 and has assisted many first-years in adapting to the university environment.

According to Pulane Malefane, Residence Head of House Harmony, they have witnessed a significant change in the pass rate of first-year students. “We have realised that first-years gain confidence much quicker than in other residences where they still need to find their way around seniors,” she says.

Adapting to the varsity environment

Harmony makes use of a Residence Assistants (RA) system, not Residence Committees (RC). The RA stay in corridors with their mentees in order to have close contact with them. An RA’s primary role is to be a mentor to first-years and also expose them to different co-curriculum activities on campus. They assist them in adapting to the varsity environment quicker, so as to be able to focus and concentrate on their academics.

Nicole Rabe, RA First-years, says the Harmony belles never cease to amaze her. “Watching these first-years grow from the high school girls that arrived at the start of this year, to the independent women they are now, has truly been a blessing.”

Malefane mentions that they intentionally try to place students from one faculty in the same corridor. In that way, mentors and residence assistants are in close proximity to them. “We have study rooms in each and every corridor of Harmony, making it easy for students to study close to their rooms at any time,” she says.

Phathutshodzo Nekhavanmbe, a first-year LLB student, says she could not have asked for a better house to be placed in. “The Harmony experience has been great so far, as the people living there are approachable and eager to lend a helping hand.”

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