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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

UFS’ position on student politics
2011-09-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) welcomes politics on its campus. It especially invites students to participate in all the political activities on campus, ranging from seminars and debates on national and provincial politics, and organization within party political structures. Earlier the year, in the run-up to the Local Government Elections, a programme was run on campus with all political parties participating in public and radio debates with students on political issues.

A university must be a place for all kinds of ideas and organizations---social, cultural, religious, academic and, yes, political. The perception that the UFS has “banned” politics is simply not true, nor is it possible within a constitutional democracy.
 
The University of the Free State once again invites SASCO and any other political groupings that have not yet registered to participate in campus life, to do so as soon as possible. It is important to the UFS that all student bodies enjoy full participation in campus life, and that there exists a vibrant and exciting political life on the campus alongside academic, social, cultural and religious life.
 
The Student Representative Council (SRC) Elections at the UFS has been constituted on independent candidacy and non-party-political basis. This is a decision crafted and recommended by the Broad Student Transformation Forum, whose members are elected by students, and approved for implementation by the highest authority of the university, the Council. The decisions of the Student Forum entails that all students can nominate individuals for a variety of student leadership positions, which includes nomination for elective portfolios in the SRC elections, but also within nine sub-councils that hold ex-officio seats on the SRC.
 
The old system which restricted student leadership to representation on a party-political basis only (DA, ANC, Freedom Front Plus etc) no longer exists.
 
This decision of the Student Forum ensures that the rights of all students to directly elect their representatives are protected, and that the SRC in fact represents the student body as a whole and not particular interest groups alone. This decision enables ALL students to stand for and participate in campus politics in the SRC elections, though not on a party political ticket. In the 2011 SRC Elections, for example, SASCO members were indeed mandated by its local branch to stand as candidates for various elected positions, as did other political parties such as the DA Student Organisation, a development which the university welcomes. 
 
Most importantly, the UFS insists that all students participate in university life with respect for the rights of all students, irrespective of their social beliefs or political commitments. The UFS insists that no student or student grouping acts to disrupt campus life or insult university staff or denigrate fellow students on grounds of race, religion, language, gender, etc. This is very important to the UFS as it works to build a non-racial culture that respects our common humanity. Our students must learn that democracy and decency go hand in hand, and that part of learning at a university, is to learn to differ without resorting to a language of derision.
 
In short, the University of the Free State warmly welcomes full participation in politics, as in other spheres of student life, on all three its campuses.
 
Statement by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

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