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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

Kovsies still enjoy successful exchange opportunity
2010-08-25

 
Students Ian Botha, Lize Swart and SW Meintjies with Prof. Izak Groenewald (second from right) at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg upon the student’s recent departure to Virginia Tech. Photo: Supplied

More than a decade ago, the then Chairperson of Free State Agriculture, Piet Gous, in collaboration with the then Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Piet Wilke, started an exchange initiative which still makes a difference to students’ lives today.

Students at the university get the opportunity to go and study at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg in the United States of America (USA) during the second semester. During the first semester the UFS then receive American students. Since its inception in 1998, 142 students have already participated in the exchange programme.

“It is not only about six months’ studies at an American university. It is about the expansion of horizons, the creation of new frames of reference and exposure to other cultures and customs in order to attain and experience more life capacity,” says Prof. Izak Groenewald, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at the UFS. Prof. Groenewald has acted as coordinator of this student exchange programme since 1997.

According to Prof. Groenewald, the secret of the successful programme rests with the fact that Kovsies pay their tuition and accommodation fees at the UFS as if they were studying here. However, they enjoy the privileges at Virginia Tech. Similarly, the American students pay their corresponding fees at Virginia Tech and then enjoy the privileges offered by the UFS. 

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