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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Academics should strive to work with students towards publishing, says NRF-rated researcher
2017-07-17

Description: Dr Rodwell Makombe Tags: National Research Foundation University of the Free State Qwaqwa Campus Department of English  

Dr Rodwell Makombe, Y-gegradeerde navorser.
Foto: Thabo Kessah


“The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a prestigious research institution and to be recognised by such an institution means that my work is worthwhile. This alone motivates me to do more research.” This is how Dr Rodwell Makombe reflected on his recent recognition as an NRF-rated researcher – one of the few on the Qwaqwa Campus. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa Campus.

“This recognition is indeed an important milestone in my research career. It means that my efforts as a researcher are recognised and appreciated. The financial research incentive will enable me to engage in more research, attend conferences, and so forth,” he said.

Comparing research in the Humanities and Sciences

Dr Makombe’s research area is broadly postcolonial African literature, but he is particularly interested in postcolonial literatures and resistance cultures. He is currently working on a book project entitled Visual Cultures of the Afromontane.

When asked what he thought about Natural Sciences being in the lead as far as research is concerned, he said that this is mainly caused by funding opportunities.

“It means that my efforts as a
researcher are recognised and
appreciated.”

“It is easier to access funding for research in the Natural Sciences than for the Humanities. Researchers in the Humanities usually do research without any form of funding. However, there are also differences in the way research is done in the Sciences than in the Humanities. Science researchers tend to work together on different projects, which make it easier for them to have their names on publications, no matter how small their contribution. This is also connected to the issue of funding,” he added. 

He continued: “Since research in the Humanities is largely unfunded, it is difficult for researchers to establish research groups. Another issue is that most academics in the Humanities do not necessarily teach modules within their research interests. Therefore, they tend to be overloaded with work as they have to do research in one area and teach in another area.”

NRF-rating and funding

For Dr Makombe, the solution to this challenge lies in academics in the Humanities working towards publishing with their students. “This way,” he said, “both the students and the academics will get publications that will help them to get NRF-rating and other forms of research funding. Modules in the Humanities need to be aligned to academics’ research interests to avoid mismatches between teaching and research.” 

He previously worked at the University of Fort Hare and the Durban University of Technology and has published several articles in both local and international journals.

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