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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

Professor from Cambridge University addresses young scholars
2017-07-18

 Description: Cambridge readmore Tags: : Young Scholars Initiative, International Studies Group, University of Cambridge, University of the Free State, Prof Gareth Austin 

In the first conference of its kind on the African continent,
the Universityof the Free State’s Bloemfontein Campus
was privileged to host the Young Scholars Initiative conference.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan


“It doesn’t matter where a concept originates from if it works. The problem arises when the concept does not work.”

These were the words of Prof Gareth Austin in his address at the Young Scholars Initiative (YSI). His keynote focused on the “Economic History in Africa’s Decolonisation and Development”.

The African economic history

Prof Austin, a professor in Economic History at the University of Cambridge, discussed how African economic history has always been about development, and also gave a brief periodisation of the economic historiography of Africa.

In his closing remarks he focused more on history and economics. “Economics is a sensible approach to take, where history matters because of the sense of context.”

Reflecting on the African experience

A total of 65 young and senior scholars from five continents attended the conference Decolonising Africa? The Economic History of Development, hosted by the YSI in partnership with the International Studies Group at the UFS.

The conference, held from 8 to 9 June 2017, provided an opportunity to reflect on the African experience from an historical perspective and to assess the current position of the continent in the global economy. It discussed new themes in development, such as the role of women, minorities, and entrepreneurs.

The conference focused on how the business community has operated in an Africa that still faces inequalities and unfair terms of trade and lacks a unified political will.

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