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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

Andrew Mellon Foundation renews ongoing support for UFS projects
2017-04-10

Description: ' Andrew Mellon Foundation - Badat Tags: Andrew Mellon Foundation - Badat

Dr Saleem Badat and Annemia van der Heever.

The University of the Free State (UFS) was first awarded a grant by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation (AWMF) in 2015 to fund several projects between 2015 and 2016 under the International Higher Education Strategic projects fund. The programme’s director, Dr Saleem Badat, visited the UFS on 23 March 2017 as part of his annual first-quarter feedback sessions, with not only the UFS but other universities around the country that benefited from the programme. Top of the agenda was a meeting with principal investigators of projects funded by the foundation, to discuss the UFS’s institutional priorities for funding, alongside the university’s management, to discuss possible intra-institutional projects to be undertaken with other universities.

During his visit, Dr Badat met with Prof Nicky Morgan, UFS Acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector, as well as the AWMF representative, Annamia van der Heever, Director: Institutional Advancement. He discussed future plans with managers of the Programme for Innovation in the Artform Development, #Movements project, Inclusive Professoriate Grant and the Curriculum reform programme which involved seven other universities.  

The AWMF, through its projects, is instrumental in developing and maintaining strong higher education institutions that produce knowledge and high-quality graduates, and advances social justice. The projects further aim to deepen and broaden public understanding and support for the arts and humanities, diversity and inclusion. “The Foundation each year presents universities with wonderful opportunities to improve teaching, learning and research in the humanities. We are working hard with the Faculty of Humanities on possible submissions for 2017,” said Van der Heever.

During 2017 between $10.8 million and $12 million will be available for grants by the Foundation’s International Higher Education and Strategic Projects programme. The Vice-Chancellor’s Office will continue to serve as a contact point and administrative support for UFS projects currently funded by AWMF. Institutional Advancement will assist project leaders to draft submissions to the Foundation this year and in the future. In 2018 AWMF will celebrate 30 years of involvement in supporting higher education in South Africa. 

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