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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

UFS takes steps to address power shedding
2008-01-31

The problem of power shedding was urgently discussed by the Executive Committee of the Executive Management (Exco) during its meeting yesterday.

A report was presented by Ms Edma Pelzer, Director: Physical Resources and Special Projects, and a consulting electrical engineer about possible short, medium and long term solutions for the UFS.

This includes (a) the possible installation of equipment (eg. power generators) and (b) operating procedures to ensure the UFS’s functionality despite power shedding.

We are also in contact with Centlec to bring about the best possible arrangements for the UFS regarding the power shedding. It is possible that refined power shedding schedules will be implemented within a few weeks or a month to ensure that there is minimal disruptions at the UFS (especially during evening lectures).

In the long term it is unaffordable to generate power for the whole campus to meet everyone’s electricity needs. Only critical points will be supplied with emergency power generators.

Emergency power generation for certain critical points have already been provided for (eg. the Callie Human Centre, the evacuation of large halls, computer services, critical long term research projects, etc.). We have been doing surveys since 2006 to determine the UFS’s preparedness for “normal” power failures. The extent of the current situation has, however, taken the whole country by surprise.

Certain urgent steps were decided on yesterday. A decision was made to immediately design emergency power systems and supply it to the new examination centre and large lecture halls such as the Stabilis, Flippie Groenewoud, Agriculture building, and possibly the West Block. The delivery and installation of these systems will, however, take from three to six months.

The UFS will have to manage despite the power shedding, even after the emergency power systems have been installed and we will not be able to function as normal. Every division must devise operating procedures to deal with the power shedding without jeopardising the quality of core functions.

Bloemfontein is luckier than many other cities because Centlec is able (so far) to keep to the published schedule to a large extent.

Plans are also being made to keep staff and students continuously informed via the UFS web site about expected power shedding schedules and risks of power shedding in the course of a day.

Exco requests every faculty and support service to think about suitable operational solutions for managing their work and meetings during a power shedding.

Every line head has instructions to urgently determine the situation and needs in his or her division and indicate what practical arrangements can and must be made to schedule work around the power shedding. Every line head must provide Exco with a status report within a week.

In this way critical areas in terms of core functions and high quality service delivery will be determined and receive attention. Security systems and the safety of staff and students will also receive specific attention - this includes the residences.

In the mean time the Department of Physical Resources will carry on with a wide-ranging investigation into the extent of needs and plans and will compile a budget for the solution thereof.

Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Academic Operations, and the deans had a meeting yesterday to discuss problems and possible solutions around the power shedding in eg. computer rooms, during evening lectures, and practical classes.

Options may include eg. alternative time slots (eg. weekends) or alternative halls (eg. at the Vista Campus) for evening lectures which are affected by power shedding, or adjusted teaching methods.

Staff is requested not to install their own power generators under any circumstances. It can be very dangerous when such apparatus are linked to a building’s electrical system. The safety of staff and students and the risks of fire or injuries must also be the highest priority under all circumstances.

The Department of Physical Resources is also in the process of investigating options such as smaller power generators or ‘UPS’ apparatus as part of a broader evaluation of needs and potential solutions.

Exco wants to ensure all staff and students that this matter is receiving urgent attention and will keep on receiving it.

If there are any practical solutions about dealing with the power shedding (such as alternative ways of working) you are invited to send an e-mail to: lightsout@ufs.ac.za  

 

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