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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 sets trend for higher education institutions
2005-09-21

The University of the Free State (UFS) offers more service-learning courses than any other higher education institution in the country and has the highest number of students enrolled for these service-learning courses.

This was the research findings on higher education institutions conducted between 2001 and 2004 by the Joint Education Trust (JET) into service-learning courses. These are courses which seek to integrate service to the community into the academic core of higher education institutions.

The results of this research indicated that the UFS is one of the few higher education institutions in South Africa that have made progress in integrating community engagement into the mainstream academy.

According to the findings 2 233 students at the UFS participated in service-learning courses supported by JET, while 858 students at the University of Transkei (UNITRA), 636 students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and only 600 students at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) participated in service-learning courses.

In total there were 6 930 students participating in service learning courses supported by the JET at 10 institutions throughout the country.

The research also found that out of a total of 182 service-learning courses supported by JET countrywide, the UFS had the highest number of such courses at 42, followed by WITS with 28, the University of Kwazulu Natal with 26, UWC 24 and UNITRA with 22.

Nationally, most of the service-learning courses at higher education institutions are offered in the human sciences (62), followed by health sciences (37), education (26), agriculture (14), and economic sciences (11).

According to leading academics, service-learning is a credit-bearing, educational exercise in which students participate in an organised service activity that meets identified community needs and helps the student to gain a deeper understanding of course content and a sense of civic responsibility.

Reacting to the research findings, the Rector and Vice-chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, said the university feels strongly that there should be integration of service-learning into the academic core of the institution.

“Through service-learning modules the UFS can give expression to its role of service to the community as an institution of higher learning, producing quality graduates who understand the communities in which they will have to function for the rest of their lives,” Prof Fourie said.

According to Mr Jo Lazarus, the project manager of the Community-Higher Education – Service Partnership (CHESP), which falls under the JET, a number of institutions have identified community engagement as a strategic priority and have allocated significant resources from their central budget towards its implementation.

Mr Lazarus said most students have an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards service learning.

“A large percentage of students surveyed indicated that their service-learning course helped to improve their relationship skills, leadership skills and project planning abilities. As significant is the fact that these courses also benefited them in terms of their awareness of cultural differences and opened their eyes about their own cultural stereotypes,” said Mr Lazarus.

“The key challenge still hampering the integration of service-learning as a core function of academic activity is that some institutions still see service-learning as an add-on, and nice-to-have activity,” he said.

According to Mr Lazarus higher education must demonstrate social responsibility and commitment to the common good by making available expertise and infrastructure for service-learning as a form of community engagement.

Media release
Issued by:  Lacea Loader
   Media Representative
   Tel:  (051) 401-2584
   Cell:  083 645 2454
   E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
   20 September 2005

 

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