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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

Government supports the UFS's transformation push
2009-09-04

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande (pictured), has lauded the University of the Free State (UFS) for the progress it has made in increasing access for black students.

However, the minister also acknowledged that the UFS has failed in some respects to make important changes.

“The continued racial segregation of the hostels is something that is unacceptable 15 years after the introduction of a democratic order and has no doubt contributed to the kinds of attitudes that led to the notorious incident at the Reitz Hostel last year,” he said.

Dr Nzimande was delivering the JN Boshoff Commemorative Lecture on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein last night.

He said the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Jonathan Jansen, has assured him that he will speed up this issue of residence integration and that he was confident he will do so successfully with the support of the overwhelming majority of the university community.

“He has my support in his new role and he will succeed in taking the university forward decisively along the path towards greater academic excellence and to serving its students and staff, the Free State province and South Africa as a whole, including its poorest and most disadvantaged citizens,” he said.

He said the UFS is an important national asset and “not an asset for some to the exclusion of others”.

“We will play our part as the Department of Higher Education and Training to support you in pursuing transformation, but we won’t keep quiet when we see that there are things that are developing that are actually undermining the realization of the UFS as a national asset,” he said.

Despite the fact that all our universities, he said, have policies in place to combat racism and discrimination, the Soudien Report shows that there is a disconnection between policy and actual discriminatory practice at universities.

“This is a serious problem because this disjuncture is not only because of the actions of maverick individuals on the ground, but includes the universities’ leadership, including even University Councils which are guilty of making policy in order to comply with legislation but expect that policy to be ignored in practice,” he said.

The Soudien Report is a Report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions commissioned by the Department of Education last year.

Dr Nzimande also raised the fact that universities have neglected the Further Education and Training (FET) college sector in terms of research and teaching.

“There is not enough research by the universities on the FET college sector and yet this is the sector that we are prioritizing to absorb many of our young people who can’t make it to universities,” he said.

“We want to try and fight against this notion that in order to proceed in life university is the only place. We want to turn these FET colleges into colleges of choice and universities must help us, not only to research them but also to train FET colleges lecturers.”

He also announced that he will be calling a meeting of all the chairpersons of the Institutional Forums of the universities later this month as he feels that the role and status of these forums have been “eroded”.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
04 September 2009
 

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