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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

Inspiration from an Olympic Champion for Spring graduandi
2012-09-20

Photo: Hannes Pieterse
20 September 2012

The guest list for the Spring Graduation ceremony of the University of the Free State included an Olympic gold medallist, a former Miss South Africa finalist and the Prime Minister of a neigbouring country.

The new graduates could draw inspiration from Olympic swimming champion Chad le Clos, who was the guest speaker at the event. Also attending was the Prime Minister of Lesotho, the Honourable Thomas Thabane, who came to watch his grandson graduating from Kovsies. Sharing a stage with Le Clos was Rolene Strauss, a medical student, who was among the top five contestants at last year’s Miss South Africa competition.

Le Clos, who became a national hero in July when he won a gold medal in the 200 m butterfly at the Olympic Games by beating American swimming legend Michael Phelps, told new graduates to strive for the impossible. Giving them insight into his remarkable achievement, Le Clos told them nobody had expected him to beat Michael Phelps. “Even I thought it was impossible to achieve. Always have a goal and work towards it,” he told them and said his ambition was to build up swimming in South Africa. Le Clos said he hoped that by 2016 there would be more swimmers making South Africa proud.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the university, delivered an Olympic-inspired message. Quoting the motto of the modern Olympic Games, ‘faster, higher and stronger’, Prof. Jansen told the new graduates that they had to be better than those who came before them. “I expect my students in a troubled country to learn how to be different, faster, higher and stronger. Faster means efficiency; it means to be responsive to those in need."

Drawing lessons for the country from Le Clos' victory, Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the University, told the graduates to choose optimism. Referring to the Marikana mine tragedy, Dr Mokhele said the country was far from taking the last stroke. “Even if it looks as if the curtain is down; remember that final stroke of Chad le Clos and how the great Michael Phelps was defeated.”
 

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