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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 launches a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Observatory, first of its kind in South Africa
2013-12-04

In cooperation with its partners, the Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State (UFS), launched the SME Observatory at a function on the Bloemfontein Campus. This initiative is the first of its kind in South Africa. 
 
According to Willem Ellis, Director of the Centre for Development Support, this is a public-private partnership between the UFS, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (detea), which aims to gather information for research on small and medium enterprises. “With this research we will endeavour to empower policy formulators to make the right decisions in terms of development on a local, provincial and national level,” Ellis said. 
 
Presentations and the panel discussion at the launch covered topics such as: 
  • How many enterprises can survive in a town?
  • Are entrepreneurs being set up for failure? 
  • Is SMEs the answer to the unemployment question? 
  • The cost of red tape: is SMEs being tied down? 

To demonstrate the applicability of the enterprise architect for issues relating to enterprise policy, as well as entrepreneurship strategies, it was decided to focus the pilot phase of the observatory on towns in the Free State. Dr Daan Toerien, research associate at the Centre for Development Support, and Johannes Wessels, Project Manager of the SME Observatory, compiled the report: “50 Towns in the Free State: What the Enterprise Architecture of these towns is telling us about Entrepreneurial Space.” 
 
In his presentation at the launch, Dr Toerien said: “The Enterprise Observatory’s prime goal is to present valuable facts and insights about enterprises in the domains it is observing.” He has developed a database that contains information on a large number of South African towns. He said that studying the enterprise architecture of towns will contribute significantly to inform the policy and strategy debate on LED and enterprise development. “These activities will add valuable data and insights to approach entrepreneurship in the Free State and, after the pilot phase, also in other provinces in South Africa. The Free State government, district and local municipalities, and the consultant fraternity serving them, should find the SME observatory’s activities of value,” he said. 
 
Wessels said that the SME Observatory of South Africa is dedicated to base its arguments on sound theory, science and applied research; to engage policy and decision makers on an evidence-based approach; operate in a politically non-aligned mode in order to mirror truthfully the impact of policies and decisions and to partner with policy makers, entrepreneurs, public administration, think tanks, research institutions, business representatives and NGOs on building networks and alliances to promote an open and competitive enterprise environment.

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