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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

Important message to UFS students on NSFAS and financial aid in general
2013-02-01

31 January 2013

Dear Students

There remains some uncertainty as well as misinformation within the student body concerning NSFAS and financial aid in general. This communication is intended to provide the facts on the state of student funding at the University of the Free State (UFS). I hope you find this information helpful and that it would guide you in your decisions as you wait to hear from, or hopefully receive funding from NSFAS or any other source.

  1. Every year the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) determines how much funding is available to fund students at all universities in South Africa; this is determined in part by the student numbers. Universities do not ask for, or determine the DHET allocation and are instructed by government that “NSFAS will ensure that the universities comply with the processes, procedures…for the allocated funds.”

  2. On 14 December 2012 the UFS received notice from the DHET that our total allocation would be R108,331,215.66 and that this amount must be apportioned in the following categories:
    General NSFAS Funding R85,174,275.07
    Teacher Training R2,291,940.59
    Disability Funding R1,265,000.00
    Final-Year Programme R19,600,000.00

  3. The UFS received 5 952 applications for NSFAS funding and with the available funding we can only finance up to 3 000 students on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein Campuses, provided that those students satisfy the stringent criteria, e.g. the so-called “national means test” determined for all universities in the country. If we funded more students that the available monies allow, the university would be held accountable by the NSFAS Board and the DHET and this would threaten future funding.

  4. Students apply in the previous year and therefore late applications are less likely to receive funding.

  5. Academic merit also counts, therefore students who fail one or more modules are less likely to receive new or ongoing support from NSFAS. The combination of academic standing and financial need are among the important criteria in decision-making on NSFAS funds.

  6. The UFS is one of the few universities with a very efficient record in using every cent made available to support poor students; we are proud of this record. No money is sent back to NSFAS, except small amounts not claimed by students in the disability category. The university is not allowed to shift funds between categories as described in point #2 above.

  7. Allocations are not based on campus, but need.

  8. The UFS sets aside an additional R35,7 million (in 2013) from within its own budget as bursaries so that we can accommodate as many students as possible. We spend every cent of this funding on students.

  9. The UFS also raises millions in bursaries from the private sector to support poor and promising students, though these funds are often linked to the industry granting the money, e.g. Investec for Accounting students and SASOL for Chemistry students. This recruitment of bursaries is a 24/7 commitment of the Marketing Office and the Faculties and Heads of Departments are also active in raising funds from government agencies, parastatals and the private sector for students in their units.

  10. After almost all our 2013 funds were allocated in favour of students, we calculated a shortfall in the NSFAS allocation of approximately R51 million. We are in the process of making an urgent submission to NSFAS to consider this additional allocation, but we cannot guarantee that this plea can or will be met.

Finally, I want all our students to know that the University of the Free State works very hard to raise every cent we can to provide poor students with funding for their studies. Many of my colleagues, including support staff, who do not earn very much, use some of their meagre personal resources to help a student with money for registration or clothing or food. In fact, the No Student Hungry Campaign that raises more than R600,000 by UFS volunteers annually, is another mechanism for trying to assist students who might have money for studies, but not much else.

We do this because we care, and because this is what The Human Project at Kovsies is all about.

I therefore ask for your patience as we continue our labour of raising the funds that enable every deserving student to continue their studies at the University of the Free State.

Should you have any further questions about NSFAS, please leave an email inquiry on choanet@ufs.ac.za or mallettca@ufs.ac.za and we will endeavour to provide you with the information you require.

Sincerely Yours

Jonathan D Jansen
Vice-Chancellor and Rector
University of the Free State

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