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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

Unconventional oil and gas extraction – study for Water Research Commission reveals possible impacts
2014-11-05

 

Photo: Legalplanet.org
The Centre for Environmental Management (CEM) at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently completed a three-year project for the Water Research Commission. The purpose was to develop an interactive vulnerability map and monitoring framework for unconventional oil and gas extraction (final report still to be published).

Due to the complexity of this field, a number of participants across different disciplines and universities were involved in this trans-disciplinary study. Contributors included the Departments of Sociology, Physics and Mathematical Statistics from the UFS, the University of Pretoria Natural Hazard Centre, Africa, as well as the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law from the University of Cape Town.

Unconventional oil and gas extraction, its related impacts and the management of this activity to ensure environmental protection, is a controversial issue in many countries worldwide. Since the extraction of oil and gas using unconventional techniques is an unprecedented activity in South Africa, the project focused on understanding this extraction process as well as hydraulic fracturing and identifying possible environmental and socio-economic impacts associated with this activity in the South African context. An understanding of the possible impacts could aid government during the development of policy aimed at protecting the environment.

The researchers subsequently identified indicators to develop an interactive vulnerability map for unconventional oil and gas in South Africa. The vulnerability map focuses on specific mapping themes, which include surface water, groundwater, vegetation, seismicity and socio-economics. In addition, the map provides information on the vulnerability of the specified mapping themes to unconventional gas extraction on a regional scale. This map is intended as a reconnaissance tool to inform decision-makers on areas where additional detail field work and assessments may be required. It can also be used during Environmental Impact Assessments and determining licensing conditions.

Lastly, a monitoring framework was developed, which describes monitoring requirements for specific entities – surface water, groundwater, vegetation, seismicity and socio-economics – for the different phases of unconventional oil and gas extraction. Such monitoring is an important part of environmental protection. It is especially important for South Africa to perform baseline monitoring before exploration starts to ensure that we will have reference conditions to identify what impact oil and gas extraction activities has on the biophysical and socio-economic environments.


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