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22 January 2020 | Story Amanda Tongha | Photo Charl Devenish
UFS First year welcoming
New Kovsies got to experience the Kovsie feeling during the welcoming ceremony on 18 January.

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‘Our bundles of joy, midwives of a better future, and the ones who carry the hope of families, communities, and villages.’ These were some of the words used to describe new first-year students starting their study journey on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). 

As part of the almost 8 000 students who will enrol on the three UFS campuses this year, the Bloemfontein cohort gathered on the Red Square in front of the Main Building for an official welcome at the UFS. They were addressed by Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, and Katleho Lechoo, President of the Bloemfontein Student Representative Council (SRC).  Despite a downpour on the day of the welcoming (17 January 2020), students and parents flocked to the venue to hear what the UFS is all about. 

Thank you for choosing the UFS 

“Do not take light the fact that you were chosen from more than 71 000 applicants,” Katleho told the class of 2020.  “An incomparable experience awaits you, and we will be there every step of the way,” he welcomed students. The SRC President urged students to grasp opportunities and to participate in student life activities. 

“Remember how fortunate you are. Only a few people who passed got accepted.” 

Prof Petersen shared a similar message, thanking first-year students for choosing the UFS. 

“The world you will be entering, now and when you graduate with your qualification, is a world that is complex, it is a world that is uncertain, it’s a world that is ambiguous, and it is a world you will have to navigate with the specific skills that you have acquired at the UFS.” 

Highlighting the achievements of Kovsie students in the fields of sports, academics, arts and culture, he encouraged students to take advantage of opportunities and skills gained during their time at the university. 

Safety a top priority

Prof Petersen also assured students that safety, both on and off campus, remains a top priority for the university. 

“At the UFS, we have zero tolerance for any violence, whether it is physical violence, gender-based violence or any form of discrimination. We are not tolerating that at all. We have developed systems, processes, and mechanisms to assist you in being safe.” 

Among those in attendance was Bianca Shaw, who travelled from Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal, to become a Kovsie. The LLB student said enrolling at the UFS, which is located in the judicial capital of South Africa, is the best for what she wants to study. “I heard from other students that I would be making the best decision. Also, the town area is safe and clean, and I am glad to be here.”

Her friend and fellow LLB student, Janѐ Bezuidenhout, said it was a difficult decision moving from Cape Town to Bloemfontein, but she felt welcome in Kovsieland. “I had the option to choose between Stellenbosch University and North-West University, but I chose the UFS as I wanted to interact with people from other cultures.” 

For Ayesha Ndlovu, the decision to move from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein came with much more freedom. The Bachelor of Divinity (Theology) student says she wants to grow away from family, learning how to be independent and just having fun. “It is a nice change of scenery compared to Johannesburg.” 

• The UFS received 71 346 applications from prospective students for admission in 2020, with 7 982 available space on the three campuses.

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