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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

Four modernised controlled environment cabinets inaugurated
2006-07-27

Photographed in a controlled environment cabinet were at the back from the left:  Mr Adriaan Hugo (head of the UFS Electronics and Mechanisation Division), Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS) and Prof Koos Terblans (lecturer at the UFS Department of Physics).  In front is Mr Koos Uys (engineering consultant from Experto Designa who helped with the cooling systems of the cabinets).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

Different look for research in controlled circumstances at the UFS  

Research in controlled circumstances at the University of the Free State (UFS) turned a new page today with the inauguration of four modernised controlled environment cabinets of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences.

“The controlled environment cabinets, which are situated next to the glass houses on the eastern side of the Agriculture Building on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein, were installed in the early 1980’s.  The cabinets, used for research purposes in controlled circumstances by the UFS for many years, became dysfunctional and needed to be repaired and put into use again,” said Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

“The cabinets are used by the agronomics, horticulture and soil science divisions of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences to control factors such as the temperature, the intensity and quality of light, synthesis and humidity.  This is done 24 hours a day, with hourly intervals,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

The cabinets are ideally suited to determine the joint and separate effects of these factors on the growth of plants.  The adaptability of plants to climate can also be investigated under controlled circumstances.  All of this leads to a better understanding of the growth and development process of plants, more specifically that of agricultural crops. 

“The effect of these environmental factors on the effectiveness of insect killers such as fungus killers, insecticide and weed killers can also be investigated and can help to explain the damage that is sometimes experienced, or even prevent the damage if the research is timeously,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

A new cabinet can cost between R2-3 million, depending on the degree of sophistication.  “Although controlled environment cabinets have been used for agricultural research for a long time, it has become costly to maintain them     and even more impossible to purchase new ones,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

According to Prof Van Schalkwyk the cabinets were re-built by die UFS Electronics and Mechanisation Division.  Some of the mechanisms were also replaced and computerised.   

“The re-building and mechanisation of the cabinets were funded by the faculty and because the work was done by our own staff, an amount of about R1 million was saved.  The maintenance costs will now be lower as the cabinets are specifically tailor made for our research needs,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

Where all monitoring was done manually in the past, the cabinets can now be controlled with a computer.  This programme was designed by Prof Koos Terblans from the UFS Department of Physics. 

According to Prof Van Schalkwyk the modernisation of the cabinets is part of the faculty’s larger strategy to get its instruments and apparatus up to world standards.  “With this project we have proved that we can find a solution for a problem ourselves and that there are ways to get old apparatus functional again,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
26 July 2006

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