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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

New book recommends “rethinking of university readiness”
2015-06-01

A young man draws himself standing behind a brick wall in darkness, striving in vain to reach success and sunshine on the other side. This drawing aptly illustrates the focus of Dr Merridy Wilson-Strydom’s book University Access and Success: Capabilities, diversity and social justice.

Using the capabilities approach, Dr Wilson-Strydom considers the individual wellbeing and quality of life of students as central metrics for understanding access and success. Based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, including focus groups, written reflections and drawings, interviews, and participatory workshops, she identifies seven key capabilities needed for a student to successfully transition to university life, namely:

  1. Practical reason
  2. Knowledge and imagination
  3. Learning disposition
  4. Social relations and social networks
  5. Respect, dignity and recognition
  6. Emotional health
  7. Language competence and confidence

At the launch of the book at the UFS recently, Prof Sandra Boni, from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain, said: “From a methodological perspective, this book is an excellent contribution in the educational research domain ... It brings a richness of data that allows the author to explore in a deeper way the personal characteristics and the social factors that influence the capability [of students] to participate. ... This book offers interesting avenues for action in the university realm.”

Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic at the UFS, said at the same event: “We will have to rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. I would like to make it prescribed reading for all deans and HODs.”

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