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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. 



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Professor triumphs at Water Research Commission (WRC) Symposium
2013-12-13

 
Prof Leon van Rensburg

The university’s advancement of research excellence recently found further embodiment in Prof Leon van Rensburg from the Department of Soil- and Crop- and Climate Sciences. His expertise in the water sector resulted in award-winning research.

Prof Van Rensburg received the award for Sustainable Development Solutions 2013 at the Water Research Commission (WRC) Symposium held at the CSIR in Pretoria. The symposium acknowledged local scientific solutions that have had a global impact. Prof Van Rensburg was recognised for his outstanding research guiding the management of salinity under irrigation at farm level in South Africa – ensuring food production. The paper that earned him this honour is entitled “Rainwater harvesting and conservation practices: challenges and opportunities for sustainable land and water use of ‘The Green Village’ in arid to semi-arid climate zones.”

The awards were linked to the WRC’s newly-adopted corporate planning tool named the ‘Knowledge Tree’, guiding the commission’s operations. The ‘Knowledge Tree’ functions as a yardstick with which the WRC measures its impact in essential areas. The presentation of these accolades underscored the importance of water science and water technology in improving the daily reality of people at grassroots level.

Prof Van Rensburg’s research goal is to enhance the efficiency of water usage of crop production systems in both the dryland and irrigation sectors. Part of his latest achievements include being editor for a special edition of the Irrigation and Drainage Journal (2012; vol 61) on rainwater harvesting.

Prof Chris du Preez, co-author of the winning paper, is an expert on soil quality, especially organic matter. He serves as the Head of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and has also acted as President of the Soil Science Society of South Africa. His current research focuses on agricultural land use and soil organic matter changes, soil fertility and fertilisation, and agriculture water quality and usage.

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