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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

In January 1, 2003, the Qwa-Qwa campus of the University of the North (Unin) was incorporated into the University of the Free State (UFS).
2003-02-07


FREDERICK FOURIE

IN January 1, 2003, the Qwa-Qwa campus of the University of the North (Unin) was incorporated into the University of the Free State (UFS).

While this is merely the beginning of a long and complex process, it does represent a major milestone in overcoming the apartheid legacy in education, realising the anti-apartheid goal of a single non-racial university serving the Free State.

The incorporation is also part of the minister's broader restructuring of the higher education landscape in South Africa - a process which aims to reshape the ideologically driven legacy of the past.

In contrast to the past educational and social engineering that took place, the current process of incorporating the Qwa-Qwa campus of Unin into the UFS is informed by three fundamentally progressive policy objectives, clearly outlined in the education white paper 3: (A framework for the transformation of higher education):

To meet the demands of social justice to address the social and structural inequalities that characterise higher education.

To address the challenges of globalisation, in particular the role of knowledge and information processing in driving social and economic development.

To ensure that limited resources are effectively and efficiently utilised, given the competing and equally pressing priorities in other social sectors.

Besides informing the way the UFS is managing the current incorporation, these policy objectives have also informed the transformation of the UFS as an institution over the past five years.

In 2001, former president Nelson Mandela lauded the success of the UFS in managing this transformation, by describing the campus as a model of multiculturalism and multilingualism. This was at his acceptance of an honorary doctorate from the UFS.

Indeed our vision for the Qwa-Qwa campus as a branch of the UFS is exactly the same as it is for the main UFS campus - a model of transformation, academic excellence, community engagement and financial sustainability, building on the histories and strengths of both the Qwa-Qwa campus and the UFS (Bloemfontein campus).

Realising this vision will be a giant leap forward in establishing a unified higher education landscape in the Free State.

In more concrete terms, the UFS is working towards this vision by focusing on the following areas of intervention: access and equity; academic renewal; investment in facilities; and sound financial management.

These interventions are being made not to preserve any vestiges of privilege or superiority, but precisely to increase access for students from poor backgrounds and to promote equity and representivity among all staff.

The current growth phase of the UFS has seen student enrolment almost double over the past five years, in particular black students, who now constitute approximately 55 percent of the student population of nearly 18 000 (including off-campus and online students).

But it has not just been a numbers game. Our approach has been to ensure access with success.

Our admissions policy, coupled with the academic support and "career preparation" programmes we offer, have resulted in significant successes for students who otherwise would not have been allowed to study at a university.

This will be continued at Qwa-Qwa as well.

Our academic offerings too have undergone dramatic change. We have become the first university in the country to offer a degree programme based on the recognition of prior learning (RPL).

This is not just a matter of academic renewal but of access as well, especially for working adults in our country who were previously denied a university education.

As for the sound financial management of the UFS (including the Qwa-Qwa campus), this is being done not for the sake of saving a few rands and cents, but for the greater value to our society that comes from having sustainable institutions.

It is sustainable universities that can make long-term investments to fund employment equity, provide information technology for students, upgrade laboratories, construct new buildings, develop research capacity, and provide a safe environment for students and staff, as is happening now at the UFS.

As a result of such management, a practical benefit for prospective students at the Qwa-Qwa campus of the UFS will be lower academic fees in some cases compared with the Unin fees.

As is the case with all these processes, there are concerns from staff and students at Qwa-Qwa and the broader community of the region that the Qwa-Qwa campus serves.

To get the campus viable and to ensure its continuation in the short term, tough choices had to be made by the minister of education regarding which programmes to offer and fund.

But we have been encouraged by the community's understanding that these concerns can be addresed over time as the campus becomes financially viable.

Meetings between the top mangement of the UFS and community representatives, staff and students at Qwa-Qwa have laid the basis for building a climate of trust in such a complex process.

We should not be captives of the past divisions but build this new unified higher education landscape that can meet our country's developmental needs.

It should be a higher education landscape that is based on broadening access, promoting equity and social justice, developing academic excellence, and the effective and efficient management of scarce resources. This should be our common common objective.

Professor Frederick Fourie the rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS)

 

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