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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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Increase in external research funding is proof of confidence in UFS
2014-12-09

The university’s sourcing of research funding from external organisations has received a significant boost this year. The growth in financing received from the National Research Foundation (NRF) alone increased from R24 million in 2013 to over R50 million in 2014.

“Because tertiary institutions can no longer survive on state subsidies alone, they are increasingly looking at alternative ways of supplementing their income. Income from these sources is utilised for various programmes and projects, with strong emphasis on research,” says Dr Glen Taylor, Senior Director: Research Development at the University of the Free State (UFS).

A source which provided considerable income for the UFS was the presentation of short learning programmes. The growth in income for the learning programmes this year was more than 30% compared to the income in 2012. “Income from short learning programmes is used to support the core business of the UFS,” says Dr Taylor.

A number of major research contracts were entered into during the course of the year. The UFS, for example, serves as an agency for a research contract of USD$10.5 million awarded by the World Bank to the Southern African Development Corporation (SADC). The contract is managed by the Institute for Groundwater Studies (IGS) and involves research on the management and formation of policies on underground water sources across boundaries.

Another substantial grant is the financing received from the Water Research Commission. The money is used to conduct research on the sustainable utilisation of water, as well as ways for the better utilisation thereof for the development of communities. The grant to the UFS for successful projects amounts to R5.5 million on average per year.

The UFS also has contracts with national and international partners. We conduct research of more than R30 million on the behalf of several mining companies, such as Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Exxaro and Goldfields Ltd. “Furthermore, we also have research funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the USA, the European Union and several bilateral research agreements with countries such as Brazil, China and India, as well as contracts with Sasol and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC),” says Dr Taylor.

“We have tremendous interest from several companies wishing to finance the programmes, projects and intellectual property of the UFS, which is proof that our research is recognised and makes a difference,” he says.

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