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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 Library book launch programme fosters dialogue between students and authors
2017-03-30

Description: Library book launch 2017 Tags: Library book launch 2017

The University of the Free State (UFS) Sasol Library has hosted a series of book launches since 2016, bringing to the Bloemfontein Campus various new and seasoned authors who share their stories with the campus audiences. The Launch Your Book at the Library Programme hosted two authors on 23 March 2017, Itumeleng Sekhu and Marcia Ramodike. Both authors spoke about their life-changing experiences and shared their heart-wrenching stories, filled with courage and hope. 

“Libraries must take the lead in creating dialogue, expression of ideas and inculcating a culture of reading and writing. This programme was also established to bridge the gap and find ways to encourage students to read and write, by creating a platform where they can interact with authors and see that people who write books are ordinary people with real stories to tell,” said Marcus Maphile, Assistant Director: Library Marketing and Community Engagement.

Speaking about her book, Itumeleng Sekhu described her experiences from childhood and her life as a disabled person after being severely burnt in a fire accident in her home as a baby.  She said: “I tried to commit suicide several times because I had lost hope. Eventually after failing to do so, I realised at some point that it was time for me to let my light shine through.” She wrote her book, titled What Do You See?, which has received substantial media coverage, to encourage others who live with painful experiences, disabilities and what she terms “internal wounds”, hoping that her experiences could help to heal them.

Marcia Ramodike’s book, An Empty Pride to a Full Price, paints a picture of her life as a youth grappling with adult issues. She describes her pain after her mother’s death, and her constant battle with the legacy of the difficult socio-economic conditions she grew up in. When students asked Ramodike what she thought the right time was to write a book, she responded, “today is the right time to write your story”.

The UFS Library has hosted 16 book launches since 2016, with the biggest being the launch of Zubeida Jaffer’s book Beauty of the Heart. The programme aims to provide access to information and to share and debate ideas in support of democracy and freedom of speech.

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