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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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Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support HOD selected as prestigious Fulbright scholar
2015-06-24

Hetsie Veitch and Gabriela Schroder
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

Hetsie Veitch, who has served as the Head of the Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support at the university for the past seven years, recently won the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship for studies in the USA. Hetsie has been placed at the renowned Syracuse University in Upstate New York, where she will read for a PhD in Disability Studies in the School of Education.

By focusing on matters of social justice in the pedagogy of higher education, Hetsie will explore the creation of universally accessible learning spaces for students so that she can apply these ideas on her return to South Africa in four years.

Under her leadership, the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) was transformed into the Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) in order to reflect new approaches to universal access and universal design.“It is my ultimate goal,” says Hetsie, “to create an institutional culture that includes and welcomes all students with disabilities.”

It is difficult to fully capture the enormous contribution Hetsie has made to the UFS in disability justice, by establishing platforms for students with disabilities that enable them to be appreciated as individuals, and to excel in academic studies.

One of our star students, Gabriela Schröder, also won the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Gaby, as she’s called, will be taking up doctoral studies in Biochemistry at a leading university in her field, namely North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gaby earned her BSc Honours degree in Biochemistry at the University of the Free State, after also completing her undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Kovsies.

She participated in the F1 Leadership for Change Programme (Class of 2011) as part of the first-year cohort that went to the University of Vermont. In 2012, she was selected to participate in the elite Stanford Sophomore College Programme with students from Oxford University (UK) and Stanford University in California.

In 2014, Gaby was awarded the Dean's Medal, a distinction which is presented to the best final-year student studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. She was also the proud recipient of the Senate Medal, awarded for academic excellence in the achievement of a Bachelor’s degree at the university.

 

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