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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 cardiologists and surgeons give children a beating heart
2015-04-23

Photo: René-Jean van der Berg

A team from the University of the Free State School for Medicine work daily unremittingly to save the lives of young children who have been born with heart defects by carrying out highly specialised interventions and operations on them. These operations, which are nowadays performed more and more frequently by cardiologists from the UFS School of Medicine, place the UFS on a similar footing to world-class cardiology and cardio-thoracic units.

One of the children is seven-month-old Montsheng Ketso who recently underwent a major heart operation to keep the left ventricle of her heart going artificially.

Montsheng was born with a rare, serious defect of the coronary artery, preventing the left ventricle from receiving enough blood to pump to the rest of the body.

This means that the heart muscle can suffer damage because these children essentially experience a heart attack at a very young age.

In a healthy heart, the left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium. Then the left ventricle pumps this oxygen-rich blood to the aorta whence it flows to the rest of the body. The heart muscle normally receives blood supply from the oxygenated aorta blood, which in this case cannot happen.

Photo: René-Jean van der Berg

“She was very ill. I thought my baby was going to die,” says Mrs Bonizele Ketso, Montsheng’s mother.

She says that Montsheng became sick early in February, and she thought initially it was a tight chest or a cold. After a doctor examined and treated her baby, Montsheng still remained constantly ill, so the doctor referred her to Prof Stephen Brown, paediatric cardiologist at the UFS and attached to Universitas Hospital.

Here, Prof Brown immediately got his skilled team together as quickly as possible to diagnose the condition in order to operate on Montsheng.

During the operation, the blood flow was restored, but since Montsheng’s heart muscle was seriously damaged, the heart was unable to contract at the end of the operation. Then she was coupled to a heart-lung machine to allow the heart to rest and give the heart muscle chance to recover. The entire team of technologists and the dedicated anaesthetist, Dr Edwin Turton, kept a vigil day and night for several days.

Prof Francis Smit, chief specialist at the UFS Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, explains that without this operation Montsheng would not have been able to celebrate her first birthday.

“After the surgery, these children can reach adulthood without further operations. Within two to three months after the operation, she will have a normal active life, although for about six months she will still use medication. Thereafter, she will be tiptop and shortly learn to crawl and walk.”

Mrs Ketso is looking forward enormously to seeing her daughter stand up and take her first steps. A dream which she thought would never come true.    

“Write there that I really love these doctors.”

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