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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.


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Prof Magda Fourie is visiting the University of Oxford
2004-08-30

 

Prof Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector: Academic Planning at the University of the Free State (UFS), is currently visiting the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where she is doing research at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning.

 

The primary role of the Institute is giving effect to the Teaching and Learning Strategy of Oxford University by supporting the quest for excellence in learning, teaching and research at the university. Prof Fourie will pay particular attention to research that the Institute has done on creating an optimal learning environment for students, with the purpose of enhancing the learning environment of students at the UFS.

Prof Fourie was awarded a University of Oxford Fellowship by the Association of Commonwealth Universities to spend two months at Oxford University for professional development purposes.

She will also visit the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, the Office for Distance and Online Learning and the Planning and Resource Division.

Prof Fourie’s visit abroad will be concluded with a visit to Dundee in Scotland, where she will attend a conference for vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors on managing change in higher education. She will return to South Africa by the middle of next month.

 

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