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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

First Rand Foundation contributes funding towards students with disabilities
2017-01-02

 Description: First Rand Foundation Tags: First Rand Foundation

Photo: iStock

Bursary funding for eight students with disabilities at the University of the Free State was recently approved by the First Rand Foundation. The grant of R2 497 440 will be paid over three years: R800 000 (2016/17), R824 000 (2017/18), and R873 440 (2018/19).

This grant from the First Rand Tertiary Education Fund is a result of the negotiations between the UFS Office for Institutional Advancement and the First Rand Foundation (FRF).

Qualifying students with disabilities will be encouraged to apply for bursaries according to criteria and requirements set by the First Rand Foundation. The selection process will be handled by a panel from the UFS. The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) at the UFS will be instrumental in the process of identifying students with disabilities who meet the criteria and requirements for funding.

CUADS already have a system in place to support students with disabilities in their studies and during exams. Students also have access to specialised exam and test venues for alternative test and exam procedures, as well as computer facilities.

Specialised support services include an amanuensis (scribe) service during tests and exams, accommodating extra time, individual tutor sessions provided in collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, South African Sign Language interpreter coordination, provision of accessible study material, and individual disability support.

 

“The centre aims to ensure that the university increasingly becomes a universally accessible environment that is welcoming and accepting to people with diverse abilities.”

According to Martie Miranda, Head of CUADS, the centre aims to ensure that the university increasingly becomes a universally accessible environment that is welcoming and accepting to people with diverse abilities. “Therefore disability awareness training and advocacy within the UFS, and specifically among staff members, is one of our priorities,” she said.

According to Thandeka Rantsi from the FRF, the company will furthermore support students in CUADS with regards to the needs ensuing from the #feesmustfall protests. “Exactly R34 000 was approved by the FRF for 14 students towards residence and meal expenses, as well as scribe and reader assistance during additional assessments,” she said.

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