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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

Louzanne Coetzee breaks 16-year-old world record
2016-03-24

Description: Louzanne Coetzee kampioen Tags: Louzanne Coetzee kampioen

Louzanne Coetzee (left) running the 5 000 m at the Nedbank National Championships at the Free State Athletics stadium with her guide, Khotatso Mokone (right)
Photo: Celeste Klopper Photography

Whether it’s the 5 000 m or the 1 500 m, Louzanne Coetzee is breaking records in all her races. Fans of the University of the Free State (UFS) student were elated at her triumph with the 5 000 m T11 world record at the Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled on Wednesday 23 March 2016.

The record, which has stood for 16 years, was shattered by Coetzee’s stellar 19:17.06 performance. Sigita Markeviciene’s long-standing mark of 20:05.81, set at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, was bettered by 48.75 seconds when Coetzee and her guide, Khotatso Mokone, sprinted hand in hand past the finish line. 

Coetzee’s coach is as elated as the world-class athlete’s fans over her officially becoming the first totally blind female to clock sub-20 minute in the 5 000 m. "I am proud and grateful. She earned it through and through. She worked hard for this,” said Rufus Botha.

The experience was a surreal one for Coetzee. “It was unreal but it is exciting to be the fastest in Africa and the world. I could not have done it without the support system that I have,” she said.

"I have seldom met a student with the character and humanity of Louzanne Coetzee; she represents the best of campus and country, and is a stunning example of what we canal  achieve despite the great challenges of the present," said Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.

New African record holder

Two days before breaking the 5 000 m world record, Coetzee set a new African record in the 1 500 m. She lowered the mark from 5:27:21 to 5:18:44, which placed her at the number nine spot in the world.

On Friday 18 March 2016 Coetzee had broken her own South African record when she ran 5 000 m in less than 20 minutes at the Free State Championships. However, the race is not an official (International Paralympic Committee) meeting, and hence remains unofficial.

What’s next?


The gold medallist is currently preparing for the Athletics Grand Prix to be held in Switzerland in May for which she is raising funds. If she is selected by SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee), her next stop is the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which is just six months away.

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