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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

University publishes its Integrated Report
2013-08-23

23 August 2013

The university is proud to have published an integrated report in line with the King III requirements on corporate governance. The university is one of the first universities – if not the first – in South Africa to do so. The UFS sees integrated reporting as a public process through which we report to all our stakeholders, using evidence-based data, on the achievements and challenges of a public university.

Our first Integrated Report reviews the overall performance, non-financial and financial, of the UFS for the 2012 academic year. It is the first report of its kind delivered to stakeholders and guided by the King III framework which recommends integrated, sustainable performance that is reported in a way that enables stakeholders to make an informed assessment of an institution.

The Integrated Report notes that the conditions under which higher education institutions operate have become more demanding in the last two decades and there is a growing need for universities to be more explicit and transparent about the manner in which their core functions (teaching, research and public duty), as well as its administrative operations, are defined by and support good governance, sustainability and corporate citizenship.

The university welcomes this opportunity to present in public an integrated account of itself. In particular, the UFS sees this report as an opportunity to align more strongly its financial and non-financial reporting in pursuit of organisational sustainability and social transformation in South Africa.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, notes in the report that in the past four years the university has made significant progress in respect of its two foundational commitments, the Academic Project and the Human Project.

There are now more students entering the university who satisfy the higher requirements set for admission. “This will improve the throughput and graduation rates of incoming students, ensuring their personal success and satisfaction with higher education.” The establishment of a state-of-the-art Postgraduate School, for example, is expected to increase the number, quality and success rates of postgraduate students.

The research output has increased steadily and the contribution of the new Senior Professors project, as well as the five research clusters, have helped to improve the quality of research and the spread of postgraduate recruitment beyond South Africa.

On transformation, the Vice-Chancellor observes that “We have made significant progress in building inclusive, democratic and embracing campus cultures which affirm the value and dignity of all students and staff. With the steady increase of black students in a majority black campus, our goal remains to retain our diversity in a university that serves as an experiment in teaching students to live and learn and love together.”

Financial sustainability is a major commitment and the UFS has not only maintained its record of unqualified audits, but has steadily built a culture of risk management and performance evaluation throughout the system. Internal auditing is a strong instrument in our arsenal to secure financial and operational compliance in every department of the university.

“What integrates the systems and functions of the university is the alignment of everything we do with our two pillars, the Academic and Human Projects, built on a solid foundation of professional support services as described in the Strategic Plan adopted in 2012. In the process of preparing the Integrated Report we discovered how much still needs to be done to align the still disparate and independent activities of the three campuses, seven faculties and more than 100 departments of this large university,” according to the Vice-Chancellor.

The report is available at: http://www.ufs.ac.za/content.aspx?id=184.

 

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