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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

Japanese researcher engages students on border issues
2017-03-02

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From the left: Dr WP Wahl, Tungamirai Kufandirori,
Sayaka Kono, Eddie de Wet and Emme-Lancia Faro
at the first academic conversation of 2017, hosted
by the Student Communities Office.
Photo: Eddie de Wet

How can we ensure humanity across borders – even if they don’t truly restrict us?

This was one of the discussions at the first academic conversation of 2017, hosted by the Student Communities Office, a division of Student Affairs. The discussions included the issue of Lesotho’s incorporation into South Africa, focusing on how ethnicity has mattered in ongoing arguments.

Basotho ethnicity

Students and staff were invited to engage with Sayaka Kono, a research fellow at the Department of Historical Studies at National University of Lesothoa, and guest speaker, on 14 February 2017 in the Equitas Senate Hall on the Bloemfontein Campus. The topic was Reconsidering Border Issues in Africa: Ethnicity, apartheid and the political independence of Lesotho.

Kono completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in International and Cultural Studies at Tsuda College in Japan. Her research interests lie in the area of ethnicity and she is currently completing her PhD on Basotho ethnicity and the former Bantustan system in South Africa.

Legacies of colonialism

A series of academic conversations was started in 2016 and aims to get top academic achievers and leaders to rub shoulders with renowned international scholars and leaders. This investment hopes to create a sense of responsibility to stretch boundaries and get the engagement culture flowing at the UFS.

According to Kono, borders of African countries are one of the living legacies of colonialism. They have reshaped the local society in various ways such as causing ‘ethnic’ or natural resource conflicts. The aim of her research is to reconsider these border issues in Africa through the perspective of ethnicity in the eyes of Basotho who have been divided by the border with South Africa for more than 100 years.

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