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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’, says Prof Petersen
2017-08-22

 Description: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’ Tags: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’

UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen
presents the welcoming address at the 2017 HEMIS Institute
in Bloemfontein.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Higher education institutions such as universities need information and accurate data to make critically important management decisions. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), expressed these sentiments during his introduction at the 2017 HEMIS Institute recently held in Bloemfontein.

Reporting a critical part of HE practice
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) uses its Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) to manage and verify performance data from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) regarding four crucial datasets, namely students, staff, space, and postdoctoral information and research fellows. HEMIS data is collected for quality control, funding, and planning purposes, in particular for steering the system and for monitoring the sector. This data must then be audited, since it is used for subsidy allocations to HEIs.

“Institutional reporting on aspects of what we do as public universities is a critical part of practice in Higher Education,” said Prof Petersen. He added, “Whether about insourcing statistics, … student accommodation, or transformation and indicators within that domain, it’s really all about accurate data with which informed, evidence-based decisions can be made. This HEMIS Institute 2017 ultimately enables us to share insights across institutions, which can grow and strengthen the sector as a whole.”

‘It’s about accurate data with
which informed decisions can
be made’—Prof Francis Petersen

Public and private HEIs attend training alongside government reps
The Institutional Information Systems Unit of the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning (DIRAP) hosted and presented the Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) HEMIS Foundations workshop and the annual HEMIS Institute in Bloemfontein. These training opportunities were attended by university data managers and representatives from 26 public and private HEIs, as well as representatives from the Council on Higher Education (CHE), DHET, and the Namibian National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). The Foundations workshop was designed to assist those new to the platform to be better acquainted with this data management tool, while the two-day Institute was structured to answer complex questions and address issues around the use of the relevant reporting structures and software.

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