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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

SA-YSSP scholars attend high level colloquium with policy makers and research stakeholders
2014-02-12

From the left are: Prof Frans Swanepoel, Deputy-Director of the African Doctoral Academy, Drs Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director: International Relations and Cooperation at the National Research Foundation, Priscilla Mensah, co-director of the SA-YSSP, and Ulf Dieckmann from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Dean of the SA-YSSP.
Photo: Renè-Jean van den Berg

Scholars taking part in the 2nd Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP), attended a one-week seminar hosted by the African Doctoral Academy at the Stellenbosch University, which concluded with a colloquium at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

This was part of the final leg of their three-month stay and studies at the University of the Free State.

This seminar was a capacity development intervention with the purpose of equipping SA-YSSP young scholars with the skills to communicate their research work effectively with different audiences.

The 36 scholars were hand-picked from some of the world’s most promising and top researchers to take part in the novel three-month programme for advanced doctoral candidates. Their research interests closely aligned with the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) grand challenges and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis’ (IIASA) current research programmes regarding global environmental, economic and social change.

The SA-YSSP is an initiative that contributes to the establishment, growth and enhancement of high-level strategic networks internationally. At the same time it develops capacity in systems analysis at the PhD and supervisory levels through research conducted in the areas of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) grand challenges.

At the colloquium, students were expected to showcase their work and research according to their various fields of expertise. High-profile policy makers and policy funders, as well as academia and fellow researchers judged and critiqued the work.

Dr Priscilla Mensah from the UFS and co-director of the programme, says it is important for the young scientists to frame their findings in a way that will be relevant to policy makers and the public at large.

“The partnership with the African Doctoral Academy was crucial in this regard since it is a capacity development entity aimed at strengthening and advancing doctoral education, training and scholarship on the African continent. The objective of this week-long capacity strengthening intervention is to equip the young scientists to be able to communicate their research effectively with different audiences, including potential funders and policy makers.

“I am convinced that the young scientists will no longer view policy makers as abstract entities, but as stakeholders who must be engaged to facilitate implementation of evidence-based policy.”

Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director: International Relations and Cooperation, National Research Foundation, says the purpose of the colloquium is to bring together different sectors in one room to look at different challenges holistically, with an emphasis on systems analysis for a common goal.

The SA-YSSP forms part of an annual three-month education, academic training and research capacity-building programme jointly organised by IIASA, based in Austria, the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the DST. IIASA is an international research organisation that conducts policy-oriented scientific research in the three global problem areas of energy and climate change, food and water, and poverty and equity. South Africa’s engagements with IIASA, specifically with regard to the SA-YSSP, relate primarily to the DST’s Ten-Year Innovation Plan.

The UFS is the first institution outside Austria to host the summer programme. Researchers in the programme are, among others, from South Africa and the rest of the African continent, the USA, the Netherlands, India, Hungary, Austria and Germany.

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