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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

Visiting UK professor presents research project at CRHED
2017-04-12

Description: ' AM Bathmaker CRHED  Tags: AM Bathmaker CRHED

Prof Ann-Marie Bathmaker, University of Birmingham,
during her presentation at the UFS.

Photo: Eugene Seegers

Paired Peers: Pathways to social mobility—Investing in the future? Moving through HE and into employment was recently presented to staff and postdoctoral students by Prof Ann-Marie Bathmaker, from the University of Birmingham, during her visit to South Africa while working on the Miratho Research Project with CRHED. Prof Bathmaker’s research interest particularly focuses on issues of equity, social mobility, and social class inequalities. Her presentation, the second in the Higher Education Research Seminar series presented by CRHED, was based on research resulting from a seven-year project in England.

In the UK, higher education (HE) is considered a key route to social mobility. Interest has grown in graduate destinations, particularly the prospects and obstacles faced by graduates from different social backgrounds. Paired Peers followed 70 students throughout their undergraduate studies and into the working world.

The project explored the processes of social mobility, highlighting different orientations and practices towards investing in the future, which ranged from investing in the present to cultural entrepreneurship for the future.

Participants were selected from two universities in Bristol, England. The research team focused on three key themes: “Getting In” (access to HE), “Getting On” (financial limitations, friendships, accommodation), and “Getting Out” (holiday work, internships, and finding suitable graduate employment).

Prof Bathmaker was able to highlight key research findings, many of which resonated with those attending. From the question-and-answer session, it was clear that many issues regarding inclusivity, whether across gender, ethnic, or language barriers, find their parallels in the South African context and can be of benefit to higher education practitioners here.

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