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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

#Women'sMonth: Lack of HIV education still affects children
2017-08-17

Description: Nickie Goedhals Tags: Dr Nickie Goedhals, Medical Microbiology and Virology, The Lancet, transmission of HIV, National Research Foundation 

Dr Nickie Goedhals, Senior Lecturer and Pathologist
in Medical Microbiology and Virology at the UFS.
Photo: Sonia Small



“Despite all the advances in the management and prevention of HIV, children still become infected every day, often due to lack of education and access to health care.” This is according to Dr Nickie Goedhals, Senior Lecturer and Pathologist in Medical Microbiology and Virology at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Study published in UK medical Journal 
A case study she was part of and published in the UK medical journal The Lancet in 2012, demonstrates the transmission of HIV to a child through surrogate breastfeeding. This study is one of the many highlights in the young researcher’s career. She received her first rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2017 for the work she has done in Medical Virology over the past eight years.

According to the above-mentioned study, only about 1% of infants in South Africa are being breastfed by a surrogate. However, results from a study in the Free State showed that shared breastfeeding by a non-biological caregiver was the most important factor associated with HIV infection in discordant mother-child pairs. Therefore, continued education about the risk of HIV transmission is needed.

Dr Goedhals is also continuing with research on HIV by looking at HIV drug resistance. She is in the process of starting new projects focusing on HIV infection and drug resistance in infants.

PSP helped with NRF-rating
She says, although her NRF Y2-rating is the starting point of a research career, it shows that she is heading in the right direction, and it “gives access to research funds through the NRF for future projects.” Other important research she conducted was on Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever – the study for her PhD.

The Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) at the UFS is the reason that she applied for the rating. “With all the service delivery, teaching, and administrative responsibilities of academic medicine, it is easy to lose focus. The PSP has really helped to create a focused and stimulating environment for research.” According to her, the PSP also provides access to a network of peers and senior staff at the UFS, as well as exposure to national and international experts.

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