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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

From a dream to a reality: Free State Mother and Child Academic Hospital
2016-08-31

Description: Free State Mother and Child Academic Hospital  Tags: Free State Mother and Child Academic Hospital

The message, From a dream to a reality, echoed
throughout the launch of the Mother and
Child Academic Hospital. From left to right:
Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the UFS,
Rolene Strauss, Miss World 2014 and
Patron of the Mother and Child Academic Hospital,
Prof André Venter, Head of the Department of
Paediatrics and Child Health, and Dr Riaan Els,
CEO of the Fuchs Foundation South Africa.
Photo: Charl Devenish

“Sometimes dreams do come true, and finally, this institution is starting to dream big dreams.” These were the words of Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS) at the launch of the Free State Mother and Child Academic Hospital collaborative initiative. The launch was an official declaration of intentions regarding the establishing of the hospital, a specialist unit which will focus on paediatric and maternal healthcare, fully supported by the Department of Health in the Free State. As the first Mother and Child Hospital in South Africa, it will be unique.

Under the leadership of Prof André Venter, the UFS Department of Paediatrics and Child Health serves over 250 000 children of the southern regions of the Free State at secondary care level, and is responsible for the tertiary care of nearly one million children from the whole of the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces, as well as some children from Northwest and Eastern Cape Provinces and Lesotho.

As part of a multi-faceted initiative, the 350-bed mother and child hospital will benefit the community of the Free State greatly, and will support the objectives of the Strategic Development Goals. It will further Free State Strategic Transformation Plan (STP) by improving access to healthcare for the most vulnerable members of the population, thus reducing paediatric mortality and improving maternal health. An additional objective of the project is to develop academic excellence, and improve the environment in which medical specialists and subspecialists develop their skills according to international standards.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-chancellor and Rector of the UFS, described the project as one which captures the head and the heart, as it caters most for little lives, a hub wherein great talent and potential waits to be unleashed. In support of the project, the university has offered a piece of land on the campus where the hospital will be built, thus strengthening the quality of tertiary education.

Former Miss World, Mrs Rolene Strauss, also pledged her support. She said she is honoured to be the patron of the project, one she believes will lead to healthier women, healthier children, and a healthier nation.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Fuchs Foundation, CEO Dr Riaan Els, awarded a donation of R2250000 towards the building of the hospital, a contribution which will bring the project a step closer to its realisation.

Prof André Venter, leader of the project, hopes that it will serve as a blueprint for other academic hospitals in the country, and mark the beginning of an era of highly specialised medical care for humanity’s most precious people.

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