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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

Young academic receives BRICS research funding
2017-04-13

Description: Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli  Tags: Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli

Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli and Dr Victor Okorie
from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning
at the University of the Free State.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“It means a lot to me, as I am a young academic embarking on my postdoctoral research project. To be able to lead a team of researchers from various research institutions in South Africa is humbling.” This is what Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli had to say on being awarded a research grant by the South African BRICS Think Tank.

The think tank, in collaboration with the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), awarded the lecturer in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Free State (UFS) R150 000. She will spearhead a research project between BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) universities. “They have awarded me a three-month grant to facilitate a process of combining various research projects under the BRICS Academic Cluster,” Dr Mphambukeli said.

Platform provides collaboration

“The academic cluster provides a platform for researchers and academics to engage in ongoing collaboration,” she said. The grant will enable her and her research partner, Dr Victor Okorie, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the UFS, to put together a research proposal to be submitted at the end of May 2017. If successful, her team will conduct a research study across BRICS countries over a period of three years. It will be done in collaboration with various South African universities, who will form a team to collaborate with researchers from BRICS universities.

Great accomplishment for UFS
“The funds we have received are quite a great accomplishment for the UFS and our department,” Dr Okorie said. The UFS has become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to emerging issues in BRICS politics and policies. “Our project looks at the provision of ecosystems, agriculture, and security and the UFS was chosen as the host institution.”

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