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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

University recognised as leading Higher Education Institution for students with disabilities
2013-12-05

The University of the Free State has been lauded for creating an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities, winning the 2013 National Disability Higher Education Institution Award. The award was presented at the National Disabilities Awards held in Port Elizabeth as part of the celebrations for International Day of People with Disabilities.

The Deputy Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu, commended the university during the event for standing out among South African institutes of higher education. She told the audience the award gives recognition to institutions that demonstrate, through their strategy and policy, the provision of an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. This is done through the use of technology and accessibility at their premises.

It's not the first time the university received praise from the deputy minister. In 2012 she visited the Bloemfontein Campus as part of a nation-wide roadshow to assess disability compliance and support services at all universities and FET colleges. Impressed with the work of the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD), she recommended that staff from various higher education institutions visit the campus to gain insight into what they are doing.

Receiving the award on behalf of the university, Hetsie Veitch, Director of the USD, says the award recognises the commitment of the university’s senior leadership, who support the USD in creating a learning environment that is welcoming and accessible to all students.

Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs, says the university is appreciative of what the USD does and says the award is a great achievement for a unit that only started functioning on its own three years ago. “The role of our support unit for Students with Disabilities has since 2010 grown to hold not only a prominent place in our institutional reflection on and implementation of approaches of universal access, but also to stand as leading department in building and bearing witness to the commitment of the UFS to values of universal access.”

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