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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

UFS receives research grant focusing on enablement of non-profit organisations
2011-01-20

 
Prof. Mabel Erasmus

The University of the Free State (UFS) has received a research grant to the value of R1,1 million from the National Research Foundation (NRF) to conduct research on community engagement, with the emphasis on knowledge as enablement – a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) focus.

This was the first time the NRF had requested applications for research with a focus on community engagement (CE). With the grant, the UFS has become one of the first recipients of a research grant that focuses on community engagement.

The overarching research question that will be dealt with is how Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and the NPO sector can establish long-term, research-based collaborative engagements that will be mutually empowering and enabling through joint, reciprocal knowledge-based activities and capacity building.

The contention that this proposal is based on, is that HEIs have limited knowledge of the NPO sector and thus are unable to be fully responsive to the challenges that NPOs face. What is more, it is very likely that staff and students from HEIs do not have an adequate grasp of the experiential understanding, contextual community knowledge and practical know-how that NPO practitioners have, and hence do not appreciate the crucial contributions that they can make with regard to meaning-making processes aimed at improving some of the harsh South African realities.

According to Prof. Mabel Erasmus, Associate Professor and Head of the university’s Division: Service Learning, which submitted the research proposal to the NRF and is the grant-holder, the university would like the information generated by the research to be beneficial to both HEIs and the NPOs. “Knowledge regarding NPOs, specifically their challenges and information about what they are doing, will be invaluable to HEIs. At the same time, the research must benefit the NPOs with knowledge to improve their practice and strengthen their functioning.

“The research will take place in close collaboration with the NPOs, as their inputs are crucial. The research will thus not be ‘about’ them but ‘with’ them.”

“We do not want to send our students for community-based education or as volunteers to NPOs year after year and it does not mean as much to them as these organisations would hope for. With the research process we would like to strengthen NPOs, to build their capacity and give them our whole-hearted cooperation,” she said.

Funding received from the grant will be applied over a period of three years. Except for the study grants for five Ph.D. students and four master’s students, the grant will further make provision for a number of workshops, a local conference, a publication and presentations at international conferences on this matter. The research team of 22 persons includes academics from other HEIs such as the Central University of Technology, University of Zululand, University of Johannesburg and Monash SA. Several staff members of NPOs also form part of the team, including REACH (Bfn), Childline (FS) and others.

Prof. Erasmus said that the UFS was one of a few institutions that were currently conducting research to this extent on the link between the NPO sector and HEIs within the field of community engagement.
 

Media Release
18 January 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

 

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