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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

Third NRF A-rated researcher for UFS
2017-02-03

Description: Prof Jansen, NRF A-rated researcher  Tags: Prof Jansen, NRF A-rated researcher

Prof Jonathan Jansen, senior researcher at the UFS
Faculty of Education, recently joined two other
UFS researchers as NRF A-rated researchers.
They from the left are: Profs Melanie Walker, Maxim Finkelstein
and Jansen.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The University of the Free State received its third A-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) when Prof Jonathan Jansen was awarded an A2-rating.

Prof Jansen is a Senior Research Professor in Education secondary research field and field of specialisation: Development education and Curriculum theory at the UFS Faculty of Education and Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Stanford University in the US.

Prof Jansen’s rating follows P-rating
Prof Jansen’s rating also adds to the recent P-rating awarded to Dr Daniel Spence, a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the International Studies Group. In receiving the rating, the UFS became the only university in South Africa with a P-rated researcher in History.

P-ratings are given to young researchers, usually under the age of 35, who have the potential to become leaders in their field. Researchers in this group are recognised by all, or the overwhelming majority of, reviewers, as having demonstrated the potential to become future international leaders. 

“Obtaining another A-rating is indicative of the university’s drive to enhance its research profile – nationally as well as internationally. I am thankful to our scholars for their commitment to the rating process and look forward to receive the results of this year’s ratings,” said Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS.   

Total number of researchers increased
The UFS has also upped the ante with regards to its total number of NRF-rated researchers during the latest rating and evaluation with an increase from 127 in 2015 to 149 rated researchers in 2016.

In 2015, Prof Maxim Finkelstein from the Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science, and Prof Melanie Walker, Senior Research Professor and Director of the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, were given A-ratings.

Prof Finkelstein’s rating then made him the only A-rated researcher in ‘Probability and Statistics’ regarding Mathematical Sciences in the country. Prof Walker was evaluated and graded in the division for Research, Innovation Support and Advancement.

According to the NRF, A-rated researchers are “unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs”.

 

The rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality and impact of their research over the past eight years.

 

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