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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

Prof Luyt says young researchers should not allow circumstances to determine their future
2016-02-01

Description: Prof Riaan Luyt Tags: Prof Riaan Luyt

Prof Riaan Luyt, an NRF B-rated researcher
Photo: Supplied

Young researchers, who spend their life at a disadvantaged and rural campus like the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa Campus, should not be deterred from achieving their dreams.

This is the view of Prof Riaan Luyt, former Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, who achieved his B-rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF) late in 2015. This was by far the highest-ever rating on the Qwaqwa Campus.

“When I moved to the Qwaqwa Campus many years ago, having had the opportunity to do a post-doctoral fellowship in Polymer Science at the Leeds University in the United Kingdom, I was determined to get the Department of Chemistry off the ground, and to embark on serious research,” said Prof Luyt, who is now the Affiliated Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Research Associate Professor at the Centre for Advanced Materials, based at Qatar University.

“It was through sheer determination that I managed to obtain enough funds to equip a decent research laboratory. There were many obstacles over the years, but I managed to attract more and more postgraduate students and published more,” he said.

At first, Prof Luyt was not successful with his NRF-rating applications.

“My first couple of attempts to get rated produced no success. I was then awarded a C3-rating, which was later followed by C2 and then C1,” he added. “Getting a B-rating is the highlight of my research career. It shows that it can be done. Young researchers should not allow their past or present circumstances, or their work environment to stand on their way,” said Prof Luyt, who has supervised 38 master’s and doctoral students as well as 11 postdoctoral fellows. He has also published 185 papers in international and accredited journals.

Although abroad, Prof Luyt will continue to supervise eight postgraduate students at the Qwaqwa Campus.

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