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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

Two degrees in three years for former teacher
2013-12-17

Jacqui Middleton

When Jacqui Middleton entered university in 2011, she did so alongside her daughter, both women enrolling for their first-year studies at the University of the Free State. Three years later and the mother of three have completed two degrees – a double feat achieved with distinction.

Middleton, a former teacher, will receive a BA degree in Corporate and Marketing Communications at the April 2014 graduation ceremony and a master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture at the June graduation ceremony. With these two qualifications in the bag, Middleton will pursue her studies with a BCom Honours degree next year, as well as a PhD degree in Sustainable Agriculture.

“It was my first full-time studies since 1988,” says Middleton. “I was a teacher for 22 years and my husband kept saying that I needed to get out of the classroom and into the corporate world. I was reluctant because I was so passionate about education and my children were still at school.”

Things changed when Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, visited the Ikanyegeng Primary and High School in Jacobsdal – where she was a teacher – to deliver a motivational talk. Middleton approached Prof Jansen about a bursary. The next year, with the support of her family, she moved to Bloemfontein and stayed on campus studying for two degrees.

“For me it was a major step of faith because we were relying on my salary and I had to give that up to study, so we had to believe there is something bigger beyond the three-year period.”

Something bigger definitely awaited. Her study record of the last three years reflects a dedicated student who passed most of her subjects with marks higher than 80%. 

With her new qualification, Middleton will follow a career in agriculture and farming with her husband. ”I am still passionate about education, but now I am passionate about educating farmers to assist with the land reform process. Land reform is crucial for food security in our country and at the moment we need more success stories of black farmers moving from emerging to commercial farming. I believe that whatever you studied in life should not be wasted.”

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