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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

Postgraduate student to conduct research on maize quality at Michigan State University
2017-03-27

Description: Student maze research Tags: Student maze research

Schae-Lee Olckers, master’s student in the
Department of Microbial Biochemical and
Food Biotechnology.
Photo: Supplied

Schae-Lee Olckers, a master’s student in the Department of Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the University of the Free State (UFS), will be travelling to the US in a few weeks’ time. For the next two years she will be doing research at the Michigan State University (MSU) at its Department of Food Science, working on wheat quality and its baking properties.

Increase the nutritional value of maize
The title of her master’s research project is: “The influence of low and optimal nitrogen conditions on the nutritional value of quality protein maize”. She is focusing on the influence of environmental conditions on the nutritional value of maize.

New hybrids of maize production developed

Olckers said: “I chose to start my research on this specific topic in my honours year because maize is the main staple crop in South Africa, as well as in the rest of Africa. Therefore, micronutrient malnutrition is a major concern for developing countries as well as for poor people who rely on it as a major food source. I found it interesting that these breeding programmes that are being developed for new hybrids of maize for production are focusing on increasing the nutritional value of maize and can therefore help eliminate micronutrient malnutrition in some populations of poor communities,” she said.

Prof Perry Ng will be her research supervisor. He is an affiliated professor at UFS in the division of Plant Breeding. “I am very excited about the opportunity to travel and to gain experience working with a well-known cereal scientist. The work he does is also closely associated with my research,” said Olckers.

Her supervisors at UFS are Profs Garry Osthoff and Maryke Labuschagne from the Departments of Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology and Plant Sciences respectively.

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