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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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Qwaqwa Campus launches transdisciplinary Afromontane Research Unit
2015-06-09

Dr Dipane Hlalele, Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Education on the Qwaqwa Campus; Dr Anofi Ashafa, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus; Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research; Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Dean in the Faculty of Education; Dr Geofrey Mukwada, Head of the Department of Geography; Dr Aliza le Roux, Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology; Prof Prakash Naidoo, Campus Principal and Dr Elsa Crause, Academic Head on the Qwaqwa Campus.

The Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State in the Eastern Free State boasts of one of the most beautiful and distinctive surroundings that will play a crucial role in fostering research in the under-researched area of the montane communities. This was revealed during the recent launch of the Afromontane Research Unit (ARU), the UFS flagship transdisciplinary research programme.

“This flagship programme has been in the making for about four years as our Qwaqwa Campus is set in a very interesting, unique, and mountainous place. The programme gained the momentum when the National Research Foundation (NRF) challenged each university to come up with their own single niche research area that would give them a unique research identity”, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research, said during the launch.

”The Unit will develop the campus’s research capacity as we have already seen a huge increase in the research outputs by Qwaqwa staff. The campus already has seven scholars in the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP), and there is notable excitement here. The Afromontane Research Unit will add to that research excitement as well”, she added.

Prof Witthuhn revealed that an application for the funding of the ARU had already been submitted to the NRF, and a positive response was awaited.

The PSP is an accelerated scholarship of junior UFS researchers in their first five years post-PhD. The prestige scholars participate in an intensive programme of support that includes international placement and intensive mentoring.

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