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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

‘Miratho’ seeks to drive policy-changing research through international collaboration
2017-09-29

Description: ' AM Bathmaker CRHED Miratho Tags: AM Bathmaker CRHED Miratho

From the left: Phathu Mudau (Thusanani Foundation),
Prof Melanie Walker (UFS), Prof Ann-Marie Bathmaker
(University of Birmingham), Prof Monica McLean
(University of Nottingham), and Fulu Ratshisusu
(Thusanani Foundation).

Photo: Eugene Seegers

Miratho is a TshiVenda word that refers to informal, self-made bridges, which are usually built by rural community members during floods or other natural disasters. These are usually dangerous, unstable constructions, and only the brave tend to use them. When community members build miratho, though, they create opportunities for stranded students to attend school. Miratho symbolise the determination to access education even in the face of danger, and working with others to make progress.

The Miratho Research Project is led by the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED) at the University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham in the UK, and the Thusanani Foundation. The project is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for International Development in the UK, as well as the National Research Foundation in South Africa. The project research team consists of Prof Melanie Walker, Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom and Dr Mikateko Höppener from CRHED at the UFS, Prof Monica McLean from the University of Nottingham, and Prof Ann-Marie Bathmaker from the University of Birmingham.

Miratho is a four-year project, stretching until August 2020, which seeks to investigate multidimensional dynamics shaping or inhibiting disadvantaged students’ capabilities to access higher education, participate and succeed in it, as well as move from higher education to work. By means of a systematic, integrated and longitudinal mixed-methods investigation, Prof Walker and her team, in close collaboration with the Thusanani Foundation, aim to develop an inclusive, capabilities-based higher education Index, which in turn would serve to inform policy and practice interventions that challenge inequalities that have an impact on learning outcomes.

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