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25 February 2022 | Story Anthony Mthembu | Photo Moeketsi Mogotsi
Students return to campus
Students at the University of the Free State are excited to be back on their respective campuses, and first- year students are enjoying the experience of student life.

Over the past three years, academic activities have taken place online for most of the student population at the University of the Free State (UFS). However, this year, senior students have returned to campuses and first-year students are finally getting a physical experience of student life. “Being on campus is a new experience for me and I am enjoying it a lot; hopefully this year is a prosperous one and I am looking to make some new friends,” said Enrique Jacobus, a first-year Bachelor of Social Sciences student at the UFS.

Perceptions of online learning

Even though most of the students at the UFS are back on their respective campuses, there are some who didn’t necessarily mind studying online. “It was nice in the sense that it’s more flexible than in person,” stated Christopher Strydom, a third-year BA Governance and Political Transformation student. In fact, Marine Nortje who is also a BA Governance and Political Transformation student, highlighted that, “I liked it because it’s obviously better to attend all your classes in pyjamas and on your bed.”

However, in some cases, online education was a challenge. “I find that I don’t do well online, so physical education works better for me,” indicated Luther Madzhie, a third-year Law student at the UFS. In fact, Tomas van Rensburg, a second-year BA student at the UFS, argues that it was harder to learn online, and returning to contact learning is more beneficial, as lecturers can assist students in person.  As such, there is some excitement among students regarding being back on campus and returning to contact learning. “I feel like there’s a lot more people now, it actually feels like we are attending university,” he stated.

The excitement of being back on campus

It is apparent that students at the University of the Free State have been yearning for more personal communication and being back on campus allows them to do so. “I quite enjoy it, it’s nice seeing other people and being able to interact with other students; it’s definitely more of an academic exchange,” Strydom indicated. In addition, the different activities that have been taking place in and around campus have made this return more worthwhile. “Campus life is so fun, like I went to the rugby yesterday and that was so much fun; everyone was there, and the vibe was awesome,” explained Nortje. In addition, first-year students are excited to be on campus due to the number of activities they participate in with the
Gateway Orientation Programme.

Although there is some hesitation and fear regarding writing tests and exams on campus again, students at the University of the Free State are pleased to be around their peers once again.

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