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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

An exceptional year at Kovsies — one of the most successful years in academic achievement
2014-12-04

 

The University of the Free State (UFS) had an exceptional year, with many staff members and students performing both nationally and internationally. Considerable progress has also been made in improving the academic standards of the university.

“So far, this has been one of the most successful years in academic achievement. The UFS now has the highest academic pass rate in years, partly as a result of the admission standards which were raised four years ago.

“We now also have the highest rate of research publications, one of the highest publication figures for scholarly books in history, three Mandela Rhodes scholars and several international communication awards”, says Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.

“The university now attracts top professors from all over the country and other parts of the world and for the first time in many years, two researchers received A-ratings from the National Research Foundation (NRF). This is the first time in the history of the UFS that two A-ratings were awarded simultaneously. The most researchers ever were rated by the NRF this year. After the constant turmoil of a few years ago, Kovsies has now become one of the most stable campuses in South Africa,” Prof Jansen says.

The impartial findings of a recent survey of UFS stakeholders showed that our values are endorsed by 92%; 86% agrees with our vision; 81% agree with our goals; 77% agree with our transformation; 78% believe that we are inclusive; and 78% applauded our overall reputation index. “These figures are very different from a few years ago when the university experienced a crisis,” he says.
 
According to Prof Jansen, the UFS’s financial situation is one of the most stable of all universities in South Africa, with a strong balance sheet and growing financial reserves – way better than before. This is exactly the reason why the UFS received confirmation from the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (IRBA) this year that we complied with international standards of reporting for the financial year which ended on 31 December 2013.

“I am also pleased to report that the crisis in the delivery of health services in the Free State province has been resolved due to collaboration between the UFS Management (including the Dean: Health Sciences and Head of the School of Medicine), the Department of Health and the Premier, Mr Ace Magashule. Although the loss of skilled personnel is still a concern, the Dean and Head of the School of Medicine are recreating the Health Services Platform at Universitas Hospital. However, the academic training of no undergraduate medical student or any student in the Health Sciences was influenced by the crisis in the Universitas and Pelonomi Hospitals”, he says.

The UFS is regarded around the world as a model of transformation and reconciliation in the student body. The recent SRC elections are only the most visible example of how far we have come in terms of leadership diversity. “Not a week goes by in which other universities, nationally and abroad, do not come to Kovsies to consult with us on how they can learn from us and deepen their own transformations, especially among students”, Prof Jansen says.

“The UFS will continue its model of inclusive transformation which provides opportunities for study and for employment for all South Africans, including international students and colleagues. We remain committed to our parallel-medium instruction in which Afrikaans remains a language of instruction; we are in fact the only medical school in the country that offers education and training in Afrikaans and not only English. We provide bursaries and overseas study opportunities to all our students, irrespective of race. And our ‘future professors’ programme is richly diverse as we seek the academic stars of the future. But we remain steadfast in our goal of making the UFS a top world university in its academic ambitions and its human commitments,” Prof Jansen says.

 

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