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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

Up to 60% of students do not have enough to eat
2013-11-15

 

15 November 2013

A report of the University of the Free State has revealed the shocking statistics that almost two-thirds of the students at the university don’t have enough money to buy food, and suffer from hunger during terms.

The study, conducted internally by the university’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, was a response to a growing international concern that students worldwide were not getting enough to eat. While studies were conducted in the USA and Australia, no similar research has been done in South Africa.

“There have been many studies on the impact of poor nutrition on school kids,” says Dr Louise van den Berg, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, “but almost no research on university students. South Africa is, overall, a food-insecure country, and the university wanted to establish how widespread this problem is among our students.”

The reasons given by students invariably referred to a lack of money, as many students were also supporting families. Some students admitted they lacked the knowledge to feed themselves properly, some admitted to borrowing money to buy food, and some even admitted to stealing food to survive.

“This research has confirmed something we have suspected for a long time,” Dr van den Berg states.

A number of students disclosed that they were reluctant to resort to the university feeding scheme, as they were ashamed to admit they did not have money to buy food.

This study is the first of its kind in South Africa, and underlines the fact that tertiary students are particularly vulnerable when it comes to food security. Often a student has to juggle their studies with their role as breadwinner.

A tiny ray of hope to students who find themselves as food insecure, is the No Student Hungry Programme that offers a food bursary to qualifying students.

This programme, initially established by Prof Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, and now managed by Grace Jansen and Karen Buys, offers a small allowance of about R30 per day to hungry students with an average academic achievement of 60% and above. This criterion discourages entitlement thinking and builds a strong sense of responsibility on the part of those who benefit from the food bursary.

Melanie, a second-year Geography and Environmental Management student, as well as a single mother, is a beneficiary of the NSH Programme. “This bursary helps me to get a balanced meal every day. It is one less worry for me. I dream of completing my studies so that I can be independent and provide my son with the life he deserves.”

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