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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

Female-headed households more prone to economic strains due to rainfall variations
2016-02-02

Description: Martin Flatø  Tags: Martin Flatø

Martin Flatø
Photo: University of Oslo press

Research shows that a total of 41 % of South African (SA) households are led by women, and these households are twice as likely to be poor compared to other households.

Martin Flatø spent three months at University of the Free State (UFS), researching how female-headed households in our country are affected by variations in rainfall, which cause crop failures with their implications for rural economies.

He is a PhD student from the University of Oslo in Norway who was part of the 2014/15 Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) that was hosted by the UFS last year.

Flatø formed part of a group of international scholars who conducted research on how families led by females are affected by climate change. The group focused on the implications of the weather on crop failures and rural economies. Gender and household structures were studied to determine ways in which they are affected by economic fluctuations.
 
The research group’s preliminary findings indicate that female-headed households are more vulnerable to rainfall variation than households where there are adult residents or workers of both genders.

In view of the current water shortage in the Free State, as well as scientists’ projections that our country will be among the regions hardest hit by climate change in terms of a surge in temperature, Flatø’s collaborative research has substantial relevance.|

Grooming first class scientists
The SA-YSSP is a joint initiative of South African National Research Foundation and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Its main aim is tackling challenges faced by the world at large and South Africa in particular.

Out of 24 PhD students from 18 countries and various academic disciplines, Flatø emerged as one of only three scholars to be awarded the Systems Analysis Scholarships for his outstanding science at the end of the programme.

World class mentorship
Prof André Pelser and Dr Raya Muttarak were Flatø’s SA-YSSP supervisors. Prof Pelser, of the UFS Department of Sociology, is a leading academic on population processes, and how they relate to local environmental issues in South Africa. Dr Muttarak is a research scholar at IIASA in Austria.

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