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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

Heart-valve studies receive international recognition
2017-07-11

 Description: Heart-valve studies  Tags: Heart-valve studies  

Prof Francis Smit, Head of the Department of
Cardiothoracic Surgery at the UFS, and Manager of the
Robert WM Frater Cardiovascular Research Centre, with
Kyle Davis, Mechanical Engineer at the centre.

Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Three heart-valve studies which have been developed at the Robert WM Frater Cardiovascular Research Centre at the School of Medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS) were recently presented in Monte Carlo at the conference of the prestigious global Heart Valve Society (HVS).

These studies are all headed by Prof Francis Smit, Head of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the UFS, and Manager of the Robert WM Frater Cardiovascular Research Centre.
Prof Smit says the HVS is a combination of the former heart-valve societies of Europe and the US. “Studies on heart-valve disease, heart-valve-related products and operations, as well as the design and development of new valves were presented. There are both clinical and development divisions.

He says the study in which the hemodynamics of their redesigned mechanical poppet valve was compared to a commercial bi-leaflet mechanical heart valve, was named as the best poster presentation in the experimental valve development and numerical flow dynamics division. The study, which was presented by Kyle Davis, mechanical engineer at the centre, competed against some of the best heart-valve research units in the world.

The redesigned valve, based on the 1960s Cape Town poppet valve, has the potential to provide a low-cost solution for mechanical heart-valve replacement. It is possible to produce the titanium ring with 3-D printers and is, together with the silicon poppet valve, extremely inexpensive compared to current mechanical valve-manufacturing processes.
The advantages of this valve over current mechanical valves is that, due to the effective and laminar flow characteristics, as well as the simple locking mechanisms, there is a reduced chance of valve thrombosis, and the need for anti-clotting drugs is therefore limited.

It was also confirmed that the new valve more than meets the published FDA (Federal Drug Agency) requirements, which determine the minimum standards of valves for human use in the US.

The redesigned valve also has a very low platelet activation impact, which is responsible for platelet thrombosis and leads to valve thrombosis or strokes. This valve is another heart-valve project by the centre, which is also in the process of evaluating a tri-leaflet polyurethane valve developed by them.


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