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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

Prestige Scholars Programme invests in promising academics
2015-06-24

Photo: Sonia Small

Whilst many academics find it challenging to have sustainable funding for specific projects, it is often just as challenging to find relevant exposure and good mentorship programmes to fully prepare academics toward becoming full professors.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, designed the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) specifically targeting newly-completed post-doctoral students who are already members of the academic staff.

The goal is to select the most promising young scholars and to make substantial institutional investment in their development.

To date, the PSP has produced 2 Fulbright scholars; 10 National Research Foundation (NRF) rated scholars; 1 NRF Blue Skies research project and 14 NRF Thuthuka-funded projects. These scholars work with the best academics at leading universities on three continents.

Prof Jackie du Toit, co-director of the programme, explains that while the PSP does not provide funding, it is a great programme to empower scholars by means of assistance towards generating funding from outside sources.

Prof Du Toit co-directs this programme with Proff Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research and Niel Roos from the Department of Africa Studies.

“The PSP bases its approach to funding on the philosophy that young scholars are to be encouraged towards financial independence, based on a viable postdoctoral project that would sustain their scholarship for five to eight years post PhD. We believe that the cachet and long-term sustainability of existing funding programmes such as Fulbright outweighs the short-term benefits of automatic funding from the PSP. We also endeavour to teach young scholars to work cleverly within institutional parameters, rather than leave them floundering once they step off the active PSP.”

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