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26 February 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs
Vegetable tunnels
Two vegetable tunnels were recently established on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus to contribute to the fight against food insecurity.

Food insecurity is a problem on university campuses worldwide. The three campuses of the University of the Free State (UFS) are not exempt from this plight. Research findings indicate that more than 64% of students at the university go through periods of hunger.

Annelize Visagie, , from the Division of Student Affairs who is heading the Food Environment Office at the UFS, confirms that food insecurity at higher education institutions is not a new phenomenon.

In a study with first-year students as focus, Visagie found that academic performance declines and coping mechanisms increase as the severity of food insecurity increases.

“Students use different coping mechanisms, with an alarming percentage of students (40,6%) using fasting as an excuse to friends for not having food, 60% of students skipping meals because they do not have enough money, and 43,2% of students being too embarrassed to ask for help.”

Visagie states that various factors contribute to this alarming scenario, with the main reason being that the majority of students come from impoverished economic and social circumstances. This suggests that although students receive NSFAS funding or any other bursary, it is not a guarantee that they are food secure.

Focus on student wellbeing
Aligning with the UFS strategic goal of improving student success and wellbeing, UFS staff is working hard to implement initiatives and obtain sponsorships and food donations to ensure that students do not go hungry.

Members of the university’s Food Environment Project, Drs Johan van Niekerk and JW Swanepoel from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Development and Extension (CENSARDE), and Karen Scheepers from the Division of Student Affairs who is heading KovsieAct partnered to move the existing vegetable tunnels on the UFS experimental farm to the Bloemfontein Campus.

The construction of the tunnels and boxes was financed by Tiger Brands. Professor Michael Rudolph and Dr Evans Muchesa who are involved with the Siyakhana Food Gardens, assisted with the training of students and consultation throughout the project.

The two tunnels (30 m x 10 m each) are covered with netting, and two water tanks with pumps are fitted to provide the necessary irrigation.

Vegetables add value
Dr Swanepoel explains: “In each tunnel there are 20 raised wooden boxes. Each residence received one box where they planted one type of vegetable crop, including Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, beet, kale, and broccoli.”

Residence Committee members from all on- and off-campus student communities in civic and social-responsibility portfolios, as well as civic and social-responsibility student associations, received the necessary training to plant vegetables.

The vegetables were planted in mid-February and the first harvest is expected around mid-April.

This initiative, which will help students in the near future to keep the hunger pangs at bay in a healthy way, adds to the existing No Student Hungry programme. Visagie says it is important for the university to assist students in making healthy choices and to educate them on decisions to secure nutritional food for themselves.

In addition, the university also received food parcels from Rise Against Hunger, together with donations from organisations such as Gift of the Givers – providing 200 food parcels to students on the Qwaqwa Campus, and the recent donation from Tiger Brands – providing 500 food parcels to students.

News Archive

Fasset continues to fuel academic excellence at the UFS
2017-12-15


  Description: Fasset  read more Tags: Fasset, Accounting, INTRABAS, Finance, South African Institute of Chartered Accountants

  Programme Director: School of Accounting, Prof Hentie van Wyk, and
  Dean: Economic and Management Sciences, Prof Hendri Kroukamp
  excited about the unveiling of the Finance and Accounting Services
  Sector Education and Training Authority (Fasset)
  plaque at the School of Accounting.
  Photo: Rulanzen Martin

The School of Accounting on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) held an unveiling ceremony for a Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Fasset) plaque. The plaque was unveiled by UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, and Fasset CEO, Lesego Lebuso. This was in honour of Fasset’s partnership with the UFS and its contribution towards driving academic excellence through its Intrabas projects over the past few years.
 
Funding for teaching and learning initiatives
These projects support the development of black student enrolment and performance in Accounting Studies. During the previous year, Fasset gave the UFS R54 million in funding to support teaching and learning initiatives for 960 black Accounting students. These students were enrolled for BAcc, BCom(Acc), BAcc(Hons)/PGDipCA, and BCom(Hons in Acc)/PGDipGA studies. In the same year, a celebratory ceremony was held at the South Campus for 125 Fasset-funded students to celebrate their academic excellence.
 
 Prof Hentie van Wyk, Programme Director: School of Accounting, said, “FASSET funding will give the Centre for Accounting (as it was then called) an opportunity to strengthen our current student-centred teaching model”. This seemed like a prophecy, because at the beginning of 2017, the class of 2016 BAccHons students achieved a 96% pass rate in the 2017 Initial Test of Competence (ITC) examinations of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

Millions contributed towards accounting degrees
In 2017, Fasset sponsored 114 students on the Bloemfontein Campus with full bursaries amounting to more than R20 million through the Intrabas bursary fund for degree qualifications in BAccHons, BComHons (Acc), BAcc, BComAcc and BComAcc Extended programmes, as well as the tutorial programme managed by the School of Accountancy. On the Qwaqwa Campus, Fasset has given more than R7 million worth of funding.
 
James Veitch, Senior Officer: School of Accounting, said, “A decision was made to rather fund less students so that they could be assisted with greater effect, and students who did not qualify for the bursaries, would still be assisted through the support programme.”

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