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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

Important message to UFS students on NSFAS and financial aid in general
2013-02-01

31 January 2013

Dear Students

There remains some uncertainty as well as misinformation within the student body concerning NSFAS and financial aid in general. This communication is intended to provide the facts on the state of student funding at the University of the Free State (UFS). I hope you find this information helpful and that it would guide you in your decisions as you wait to hear from, or hopefully receive funding from NSFAS or any other source.

  1. Every year the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) determines how much funding is available to fund students at all universities in South Africa; this is determined in part by the student numbers. Universities do not ask for, or determine the DHET allocation and are instructed by government that “NSFAS will ensure that the universities comply with the processes, procedures…for the allocated funds.”

  2. On 14 December 2012 the UFS received notice from the DHET that our total allocation would be R108,331,215.66 and that this amount must be apportioned in the following categories:
    General NSFAS Funding R85,174,275.07
    Teacher Training R2,291,940.59
    Disability Funding R1,265,000.00
    Final-Year Programme R19,600,000.00

  3. The UFS received 5 952 applications for NSFAS funding and with the available funding we can only finance up to 3 000 students on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein Campuses, provided that those students satisfy the stringent criteria, e.g. the so-called “national means test” determined for all universities in the country. If we funded more students that the available monies allow, the university would be held accountable by the NSFAS Board and the DHET and this would threaten future funding.

  4. Students apply in the previous year and therefore late applications are less likely to receive funding.

  5. Academic merit also counts, therefore students who fail one or more modules are less likely to receive new or ongoing support from NSFAS. The combination of academic standing and financial need are among the important criteria in decision-making on NSFAS funds.

  6. The UFS is one of the few universities with a very efficient record in using every cent made available to support poor students; we are proud of this record. No money is sent back to NSFAS, except small amounts not claimed by students in the disability category. The university is not allowed to shift funds between categories as described in point #2 above.

  7. Allocations are not based on campus, but need.

  8. The UFS sets aside an additional R35,7 million (in 2013) from within its own budget as bursaries so that we can accommodate as many students as possible. We spend every cent of this funding on students.

  9. The UFS also raises millions in bursaries from the private sector to support poor and promising students, though these funds are often linked to the industry granting the money, e.g. Investec for Accounting students and SASOL for Chemistry students. This recruitment of bursaries is a 24/7 commitment of the Marketing Office and the Faculties and Heads of Departments are also active in raising funds from government agencies, parastatals and the private sector for students in their units.

  10. After almost all our 2013 funds were allocated in favour of students, we calculated a shortfall in the NSFAS allocation of approximately R51 million. We are in the process of making an urgent submission to NSFAS to consider this additional allocation, but we cannot guarantee that this plea can or will be met.

Finally, I want all our students to know that the University of the Free State works very hard to raise every cent we can to provide poor students with funding for their studies. Many of my colleagues, including support staff, who do not earn very much, use some of their meagre personal resources to help a student with money for registration or clothing or food. In fact, the No Student Hungry Campaign that raises more than R600,000 by UFS volunteers annually, is another mechanism for trying to assist students who might have money for studies, but not much else.

We do this because we care, and because this is what The Human Project at Kovsies is all about.

I therefore ask for your patience as we continue our labour of raising the funds that enable every deserving student to continue their studies at the University of the Free State.

Should you have any further questions about NSFAS, please leave an email inquiry on choanet@ufs.ac.za or mallettca@ufs.ac.za and we will endeavour to provide you with the information you require.

Sincerely Yours

Jonathan D Jansen
Vice-Chancellor and Rector
University of the Free State

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