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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

Guidelines for diminishing the possible impact of power interruptions on academic activities at the UFS
2008-01-31

The Executive Management of the UFS resolved to attempt to manage the possible impact of power interruptions on teaching and learning proactively. Our greatest challenge is to adapt to what we cannot control at present and, as far as possible, refrain from compromising the quality of teaching and learning at the UFS.

First the following realities are important:

  • There is no clarity regarding the period of disruption. It is possible that it may last for a few months to approximately five years.
  • At present Eskom (as well as Centlec) is not giving any guarantees that the scheduled interruptions will be adhered to. It comes down to this that the power supply may be interrupted without notice, but can also be switched back on in an unpredictable manner.
  • Certain scheduled teaching-learning activities/classes, etc. may (initially) be affected very negatively, as the UFS is working according to a scheduled weekly module timetable at present.
  • During the day certain venues with natural lighting and ventilation may remain suitable for contact sessions, while towards evening venues will no longer be suitable for the presentation of classes.
  • Lecturers will have to fall back on tried and tested presentation methods not linked to electricity, without neglecting innovative technology-linked presentation methods, or will have to schedule alternative teaching-learning activities for lost teaching-learning time.

Against the background of the above-mentioned realities, we secondly request you to comply with the following guidelines as far as possible:

  1.  In addition to your module work programme, develop an alternative programme (which can, for example, among others, consist of additional lectures or a more rapid work rate) in which provision is made for a loss of at least two weeks’ class/contact time during the semester. Consult Centlec’s schedule of foreseen power interruptions for this planning.
  2. Should it appear that your class(es) will probably be disrupted seriously by the scheduled power interruptions, you should contact your dean for possible rescheduling of your timeslot and a supplementary timetable. A prescheduled supplementary timetable for Friday afternoons and Saturdays and/or other suitable times will be compiled for this purpose in co-operation with faculties.
  3. The principle of equivalent educational treatment of day and evening lectures must be maintained at all times. Great sensitivity must be shown by, for instance, not only rescheduling the lectures of evening students - given specifically the sensitivity regarding language and the distribution of day and evening lectures.
  4. In the case of full-time undergraduate courses, no lectures should be cancelled beforehand, even when a power interruption is announced, as power interruptions sometimes do not take place or are of shorter duration than announced. If the power supply is interrupted, it should not be accepted that it will remain off and that subsequent lectures will not take place. Should a power interruption occur in a venue, lecturers and students must wait for at least ten minutes before the lecture is cancelled. Should natural lighting and ventilation make it possible to continue with the lecture, it should be done.
  5. Our point of departure is that no student must be able to use the power interruptions and non-presentation/cancellation of lectures as an argument for having failed modules, for poor academic performance or to negotiate for a change of examination scheduling.

Thirdly we wish to make suggestions regarding teaching and learning strategies (which can be especially useful in case of a power interruption).

  • Emphasise a greater measure of self-activity (self-initiative) on the part of students in this unpredictable environment right from the start.
  • Also emphasise the completion of assessment assignments in good time, so that students cannot use power interruptions as an excuse for late submission. Flexibility will, however, have to be maintained.
  • Place your PowerPoint presentations and any other supplementary learning materials on the web.
  • Use the opportunity to stimulate buzz groups, group work, panel discussions and peer evaluation.

Please also feel free to consult Dr Saretha Brussow, Head: Teaching, Learning and Assessment Division at the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development, about alternative teaching, learning and assessment strategies. Phone extension x2448 or send an email to sbrussow.rd@ufs.ac.za .

Thank you for your friendly co-operation!

Prof. D. Hay
 

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