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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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UFS researchers discover the many uses of the cactus pear
2015-02-17

UFS researchers discover the many uses of the cactus pear

For many South Africans, the dry, arid areas in many parts of the country became synonymous with cactus pear growing at random in the natural veld. For some the fruit of a cactus pear, if chilled really well, is a delicious snack on a hot summer’s day. But few actually know that these cacti can be money growing wild in the veld.

For the past 15 years, scientists  at the University of the Free State (UFS) have been looking into the benefits and many uses of the cactus pear. This project  has grown steadily in vision and dimension, and today the UFS is recognised as a world-leading institution in the world conducting multi-disciplinary research on spineless cactus pear.

Dr Maryna de Wit, from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, together with Prof Wijnand Swart from the Department of Plant Sciences and Prof HO de Waal from the Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, determined the nutritional and, more importantly, the commercial and viable uses of the cactus pear.

The aspect of human consumption is now giving the cactus pear the status of ‘superfood’.

Dr De Wit and her team have successfully made various products using either the cactus pear fruit, the cladode (also referred to as the leaf) and the mucilage (the sticky liquid  in the cladode).

Some of these products are:

  • flour for baking carrot cake, biscuits and health breads
  • jam, fruit juice and canned fruit
  • sweets – marshmallows and Turkish delight
  • stir-fry, salads and other cooked dishes.

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