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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

Tactile paving assists visually impaired
2017-10-28

Description: ' 000 Blind Tactile Paving Tags: Blind Tactile Paving

Tactile paving is being installed at pedestrian crossings to assist
visually-impaired persons at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied

Crossing roads and accessing buildings has always been a challenge for people with visual impairments. They had to rely on peripheral sounds, such as car brakes and cues. However, after the installation of tactile paving – paving with special textures assisting the visually impaired to feel the difference between walking around on campus and crossing the road, this will no longer be a problem at the University of the Free State (UFS).

This is one of several developments that University Estates’ Department of Facilities Planning has in the pipeline for 2017 in order to ensure that the university attains its key component in providing a high-quality student experience.

Maureen Khati, Assistant Director of Project Management: Facilities Planning, says, “We saw the need to install these paving blocks in strategic spaces, as identified by the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS).” She says these blocks will make it easier for people with visual impairments.

Special features designed to aid visually-impaired persons

These installations have special features that will assist those students and employees with limited vision or blindness to navigate through pedestrian crossings and the different campus buildings. The university chose a unique design of tactile paving that focuses on warning and directing those with visual impairments.

UFS eager to improve accessibility and mobility

The university, and all the stakeholders involved in this initiative, are delighted to be embarking on this project and are looking forward to its successful execution. To improve accessibility and mobility, more accessible entrances and exits will be built, effective signage will be installed inside and outside buildings, but the most important aspect is that dedicated seating space will be made available in lecture rooms for special-needs students.

Khati says, “More focus has been put on installing ramps in all buildings to make them more accessible for people with disabilities, as well as other needs required to enhance accessibility at the UFS.”

For the UFS, this initiative is one of many to come, as extensive research is being done and priorities are implemented accordingly.

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