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19 March 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Thabo Kessah
Thokozile Thulo
Thokozile Thulo says the UFS has changed its focus in supporting students with disabilities.

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has recently opened a permanent office on the Qwaqwa Campus The centre aims to ensure that the University of the Free State increasingly becomes a universally accessible higher-education institution which embraces students with various disabilities.

Thokozile Thulo, CUADS Assistant Officer at Qwaqwa said: “Our focus has changed from ‘special’ accommodation for individuals to the creation of a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering to all students. Integrated learning and education methodologies and processes are being researched and developed to create more awareness among lecturing staff. This incorporates universal design, faculty instruction and curricula.” 

The CUADS office assists students to gain access to study courses, learning materials, various buildings and residences, computer facilities and specialised exams and tests. For visually-impaired students, study material and textbooks in Braille, audio, e-text or enlarged format are provided. 

The office also supports students with various psychosocial and chronic conditions such as epilepsy and panic disorder, as well as learning difficulties such as dyslexia and hyperactivity. “In addition, we support students with special arrangements such as extra time for tests and exams,” said Thokozile.



News Archive

Important message to UFS students on NSFAS and financial aid in general
2013-02-01

31 January 2013

Dear Students

There remains some uncertainty as well as misinformation within the student body concerning NSFAS and financial aid in general. This communication is intended to provide the facts on the state of student funding at the University of the Free State (UFS). I hope you find this information helpful and that it would guide you in your decisions as you wait to hear from, or hopefully receive funding from NSFAS or any other source.

  1. Every year the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) determines how much funding is available to fund students at all universities in South Africa; this is determined in part by the student numbers. Universities do not ask for, or determine the DHET allocation and are instructed by government that “NSFAS will ensure that the universities comply with the processes, procedures…for the allocated funds.”

  2. On 14 December 2012 the UFS received notice from the DHET that our total allocation would be R108,331,215.66 and that this amount must be apportioned in the following categories:
    General NSFAS Funding R85,174,275.07
    Teacher Training R2,291,940.59
    Disability Funding R1,265,000.00
    Final-Year Programme R19,600,000.00

  3. The UFS received 5 952 applications for NSFAS funding and with the available funding we can only finance up to 3 000 students on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein Campuses, provided that those students satisfy the stringent criteria, e.g. the so-called “national means test” determined for all universities in the country. If we funded more students that the available monies allow, the university would be held accountable by the NSFAS Board and the DHET and this would threaten future funding.

  4. Students apply in the previous year and therefore late applications are less likely to receive funding.

  5. Academic merit also counts, therefore students who fail one or more modules are less likely to receive new or ongoing support from NSFAS. The combination of academic standing and financial need are among the important criteria in decision-making on NSFAS funds.

  6. The UFS is one of the few universities with a very efficient record in using every cent made available to support poor students; we are proud of this record. No money is sent back to NSFAS, except small amounts not claimed by students in the disability category. The university is not allowed to shift funds between categories as described in point #2 above.

  7. Allocations are not based on campus, but need.

  8. The UFS sets aside an additional R35,7 million (in 2013) from within its own budget as bursaries so that we can accommodate as many students as possible. We spend every cent of this funding on students.

  9. The UFS also raises millions in bursaries from the private sector to support poor and promising students, though these funds are often linked to the industry granting the money, e.g. Investec for Accounting students and SASOL for Chemistry students. This recruitment of bursaries is a 24/7 commitment of the Marketing Office and the Faculties and Heads of Departments are also active in raising funds from government agencies, parastatals and the private sector for students in their units.

  10. After almost all our 2013 funds were allocated in favour of students, we calculated a shortfall in the NSFAS allocation of approximately R51 million. We are in the process of making an urgent submission to NSFAS to consider this additional allocation, but we cannot guarantee that this plea can or will be met.

Finally, I want all our students to know that the University of the Free State works very hard to raise every cent we can to provide poor students with funding for their studies. Many of my colleagues, including support staff, who do not earn very much, use some of their meagre personal resources to help a student with money for registration or clothing or food. In fact, the No Student Hungry Campaign that raises more than R600,000 by UFS volunteers annually, is another mechanism for trying to assist students who might have money for studies, but not much else.

We do this because we care, and because this is what The Human Project at Kovsies is all about.

I therefore ask for your patience as we continue our labour of raising the funds that enable every deserving student to continue their studies at the University of the Free State.

Should you have any further questions about NSFAS, please leave an email inquiry on choanet@ufs.ac.za or mallettca@ufs.ac.za and we will endeavour to provide you with the information you require.

Sincerely Yours

Jonathan D Jansen
Vice-Chancellor and Rector
University of the Free State

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