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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 Vice-Chancellor’s vision for 2016: R100 million before September
2016-03-03

Description: Official opening 2016 Tags: Official opening 2016

At the official opening of the University of the Free State (UFS), held on 19 February 2016 on the Bloemfontein Campus, Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor and Rector, announced that his priority for the year is to raise R100 million. Deserving students who cannot afford to study will receive bursaries through the Student Bursary Fund Campaign.

Staff will also have the opportunity to contribute to the fund.

Prof Jansen thanked staff for their hard work in the midst of what he described as “by far the most difficult year for admissions, registration, accommodation, and student finance”. The heightened expectations of students after FeesMustFall and the limited capacity of the university to meet the desires of students took its toll on staff.

Because of the incredible strain taken by staff members, both emotionally and physically, the Vice-Chancellor gave staff the assurance that they will receive spiritual, emotional, and health support.

“Never before have I seen such dedication from all our staff to hold the university together in these trying times,” Prof Jansen said.

“Because of you, we have a record intake of first-year students into the UFS. We have had about 5 000 students on average in the past three years and, as of today, we are nearing 7000 first-years with the strong possibility that we will enroll several thousand more students, once the new South Campus registrations come on line later this year. By mid-2016, we will exceed our own target of 8 000 students,” said Prof Jansen.

He stipulated that it is not only good for the finances of the university but also for the youth of the country who can access a quality university in central South Africa where the safety of its staff and students is a priority.

Another highlight at this event was announcing Dr Christian Williams from the Department of Anthropology as the winner of the 2016 Distinguished Scholar Book Prize for his book, National liberation in postcolonial southern Africa: a historical ethnography of SWAPO’s exile camps.

Amidst the sad episodes of violence and destruction on campuses around South Africa, Prof Jansen highlighted how the UFS will – through a seven-point approach - manage the university during these difficult times:
1.    Doing everything within our capacity to meet the needs of staff and students
2.    Upholding the right to peaceful protest in our democracy
3.    Acting swiftly against any unlawful actions by students or workers
4.    Upholding the authority of the unions (only UVPERSU and NEHAWU)
5.    Finding humane and just solutions to the problem of outsourcing
6.    Not placing the UFS at financial risk by making irresponsible decisions
7.    Maintaining an open door policy.

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