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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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Tiny microbes may solve large problems of water contamination, says Prof Esta van Heerden
2014-12-08

Small solutions for big problems

According to Prof Esta van Heerden, professor in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the University of the Free State (UFS), this might hold some truth in current terms of water treatment strategies for waste and industrial effluents.

“There is little doubt in popular literature that eminent water crises are looming, not only with respect to the supply, but quality and effectiveness of various treatment options as well. The UFS’s Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology is partnering with the Technology Innovation Agency to evaluate water treatment technologies that are applied worldwide and to extend these new or adapted options to innovative and interested clients in South Africa,” says Prof Van Heerden.

“The research focuses on using extreme microbes to tackle big contaminations and the results are amazing,” says Prof Van Heerden.

These microbes are fast becoming the stars on sites and developing these exciting systems allows for greener treatment options. It is fascinating that they can deal with metals, including chromium and uranium, cyanide, petroleum and diesel.

Of utmost importance is the development of a treatment for acid mine drainage.

“Interests have been overwhelming and thus far partners have allowed pilot scale development on their sites with very promising results. These initiatives are driven by responsible partners who strive to be innovative and develop sustainable technologies for good quality water that can be released in the environment,” Prof Van Heerden says.

The research group has set up a pipeline to serve the water communities’ needs. It provides an accessible toolkit for water analysis. A tailor-made treatment option is also developed and showcased in the laboratories. It has the added benefit that Geosyntec Consultants, USA, will ensure faster roll-out by sharing their vast experience on any related aspects.

 

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