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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. 



News Archive

Food insecurity should not stand in the way of education
2015-06-11

 

Every year, hundreds of students drop out of university due to financial difficulties – only to return to dire financial circumstances. It is only a few who manage to secure a bursary to fund their studies. These bursaries often pay only for academic and residential expenses, leaving students without additional funding for food.

The University of the Free State realized that up to 60% of its students were food insecure. Many of these students admitted to having to work after class to buy food or having to beg from friends. In 2011, the UFS launched the No Student Hungry Bursary Programme (NSH), which provides modest food bursaries to food insecure students. Currently, 130 students receive food bursaries from the programme to ensure they have one less thing to worry about while they are studying.

This year, at our Autumn Graduation Ceremony, six beneficiaries of the NSH Bursary Programme, received their degrees – an achievement all them feel they could not have reached was it not for the support by NSH.

For Tshililo Nethengwe, accounting student from Venda, her first year at university in 2012 was a daily battle. Although her parents managed to pay her study and accommodation fees, the meager monthly food allowance her parents could afford was not enough to last her the month.

“Every morning I used to tell myself not to think about food because I am here to study. Somehow, I still managed to get something to eat – even if it was just a few slices of bread a day. I was very determined to succeed in my studies, and NSH took away the burden of needing to ‘hustle’ and beg for food.”

Tshililo was one of six NSH recipients who received their degrees and is now doing her honours in B.Com Accounting.

“The NSH Bursary Programme invests in potential, and supports academic achievers who come from challenging backgrounds,” explains Vicky Simpson, co-ordinator of NSH.

“We promote the success of undergraduate students, enabling them to focus on their studies and not on where their next meal will come from. Successful graduates will have a positive and direct impact on our economy, different communities, and many households.”

The NSH food bursary is awarded to students on the basis of financial need, academic excellence, and the commitment to serve the community. We have helped more than 500 students since 2011, when Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, started NSH.

“These students share amazing stories that inspire us. Many had to endure hardship, but they managed to persevere, worked hard, and made it to university. The ability to buy a meal makes an enormous difference.”

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