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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

Statement on protest at the UFS
2005-03-04

Following a protest by student and non-student organisations today, the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) would like to place the following facts on record:

1. There is a well-documented process underway to further transform the UFS. At the official opening of the UFS on 4 February 2005 , the Rector and Vice-chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, announced that the UFS would draft a comprehensive Transformation Plan to guide the next phase of transformation at the institution.

The UFS appeals to student formations, staff associations, trade unions and other role-players to make a constructive input into this Transformation Plan.

The UFS management has been - and always will be - willing to engage with role-players and is prepared to do so even after today’s protest.

2. There is thus no regulation or policy prescription which separates students in hostels according to race.

The reality is that students exercise their freedom of choice as to which hostel they wish to be placed in. This was agreed upon by black and white students in 1997/8.

However, the unintended consequence and practice of this hostel placement policy has been that students themselves have tended to choose to stay in hostels which have over time become black hostels and white hostels.

This is a matter of concern for the management of the UFS as such a situation does not promote interaction across language, cultural and socio-economic groupings of students.

This matter is receiving attention and an intensive consultative process, which will include students, will be launched to review this policy.

The management is convinced that such interaction will enhance the learning experience of all students and sensitise them to the reality of a multicultural South Africa and a multicultural world.

3. No student organisation has been banned from operating at any of the three campuses of the UFS.

In the past few weeks, SASCO, the Young Communist League and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) have held meetings on all three campuses, namely the Qwaqwa campus, the Vista campus and the main campus.

There are also regular interactions between top management and the leadership of SASCO and the ANCYL on campus.

In fact, the UFS upholds the right of students and staff to associate freely and to organise themselves as they see fit.

The UFS also upholds the rights of staff and students to engage in legal and peaceful protests.

The management however remains committed to discussing issues that affect staff and students in a constructive manner and appeals to student organisations in this case to engage with management.

4. The issues of registration, fees, debt and financial aid are continually monitored, and interventions to assist students are made regularly. To assist as far as possible those academically deserving students who face financial difficulties, the UFS management has put in place a structure called the Monitoring committee that includes management and student representatives.

The purpose of the Monitoring Committee is to review the cases of individual students to determine how best they can be assisted.

This applies to the Qwaqwa campus, the Vista campus and the main campus.

It is generally the case that students who perform academically will not have any difficulty in obtaining financial assistance. However, according to the requirements of National Student Financial Scheme, students who perform poorly will have difficulty in obtaining such assistance.

5. With regard to student governance, the process to institute an inclusive Central Student Representative Council (SRC), on which all three campuses will be equitably represented, was launched in July 2004, and a preliminary constitution has just been drafted. At the same time an inclusive process to review certain elements of the constitution of the main campus SRC was initiated at the end of 2004. This process, which includes all relevant student organisations and structures, is planned to produce an outcome within the next couple of months.

6. There is no policy at the UFS that is based on racism or that discriminates on the basis of the race of students and staff.

As part of the building of a new institutional culture within the broader transformation process, the UFS management is determined to eradicate all elements of racism that may occur on its campuses, and has already instituted inclusive forums on campus to discuss the issue of values and principles for a non-racial university.

Issued by: Mr Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Cell: 072 207 8334
Tel: (051) 401-2749
4 March 2005

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