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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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Prestige scholar, Oliver Mutanga, to continue research at University of Pavia through CICOPS scholarship
2014-12-19

 

Oliver Mutanga has been awarded a 2015 CICOPS scholarship – one of only ten researchers world-wide to be afforded this opportunity. The scholarship enables Mutanga to visit the University of Pavia in Italy from January to March next year to expand his research.

As a second-year PhD student taking part in the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme, Mutanga is well on his way to achieve his goal of becoming an internationally-recognised scholar. He is currently conducting his research at our Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development under the supervision of Prof Melanie Walker and Dr Lis Lange. In his PhD, Mutanga examines the processes through which disabled students make their educational choices and negotiate different socio-cultural and institutional structures in higher education.

During his stay in Italy, Mutanga will work with Prof Enrica Chiappero-Martinetti on the intersectionality of disability, disadvantage and other social variables. “I will also present lectures and seminars on my PhD work at Pavia University and meet with other young capabilities approach scholars,” Mutanga says.

There is a growing acknowledgement nationally and internationally that there is limited data and understanding of the framing on disability issues. As such, data on the experiences of disabled students in higher education is important and timely in preparation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Mutanga’s preliminary analysis challenges the popular discourse that is so common in South African higher education debates that they receive unprepared students into their institutions. The data seems to indicate the opposite, though: that it might be the institutions that are underprepared to receive diverse students. The study advocates for a capabilities-based conception of student equity that focuses on the widening of opportunities for all students within higher education to pursue what they have reason to value.

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