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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

UFS sets trend for higher education institutions
2005-09-21

The University of the Free State (UFS) offers more service-learning courses than any other higher education institution in the country and has the highest number of students enrolled for these service-learning courses.

This was the research findings on higher education institutions conducted between 2001 and 2004 by the Joint Education Trust (JET) into service-learning courses. These are courses which seek to integrate service to the community into the academic core of higher education institutions.

The results of this research indicated that the UFS is one of the few higher education institutions in South Africa that have made progress in integrating community engagement into the mainstream academy.

According to the findings 2 233 students at the UFS participated in service-learning courses supported by JET, while 858 students at the University of Transkei (UNITRA), 636 students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and only 600 students at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) participated in service-learning courses.

In total there were 6 930 students participating in service learning courses supported by the JET at 10 institutions throughout the country.

The research also found that out of a total of 182 service-learning courses supported by JET countrywide, the UFS had the highest number of such courses at 42, followed by WITS with 28, the University of Kwazulu Natal with 26, UWC 24 and UNITRA with 22.

Nationally, most of the service-learning courses at higher education institutions are offered in the human sciences (62), followed by health sciences (37), education (26), agriculture (14), and economic sciences (11).

According to leading academics, service-learning is a credit-bearing, educational exercise in which students participate in an organised service activity that meets identified community needs and helps the student to gain a deeper understanding of course content and a sense of civic responsibility.

Reacting to the research findings, the Rector and Vice-chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, said the university feels strongly that there should be integration of service-learning into the academic core of the institution.

“Through service-learning modules the UFS can give expression to its role of service to the community as an institution of higher learning, producing quality graduates who understand the communities in which they will have to function for the rest of their lives,” Prof Fourie said.

According to Mr Jo Lazarus, the project manager of the Community-Higher Education – Service Partnership (CHESP), which falls under the JET, a number of institutions have identified community engagement as a strategic priority and have allocated significant resources from their central budget towards its implementation.

Mr Lazarus said most students have an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards service learning.

“A large percentage of students surveyed indicated that their service-learning course helped to improve their relationship skills, leadership skills and project planning abilities. As significant is the fact that these courses also benefited them in terms of their awareness of cultural differences and opened their eyes about their own cultural stereotypes,” said Mr Lazarus.

“The key challenge still hampering the integration of service-learning as a core function of academic activity is that some institutions still see service-learning as an add-on, and nice-to-have activity,” he said.

According to Mr Lazarus higher education must demonstrate social responsibility and commitment to the common good by making available expertise and infrastructure for service-learning as a form of community engagement.

Media release
Issued by:  Lacea Loader
   Media Representative
   Tel:  (051) 401-2584
   Cell:  083 645 2454
   E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
   20 September 2005

 

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