Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
11 October 2022 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe
Qwaqwa research conference
Unpacking the role of research in society. From left: Lukhona Mnguni, Prof Pearl Sithole, Prof Dipane Hlalele, and Prof Percy Hlangothi

From socio-political dynamics and creativity in the Basotho language, to the improvement of water conditions in the upper Tugela River and antifungal studies of Cydonia oblonga extracts (known as kwepere in Sesotho) – these are just some of the highlights of the research presented at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus research conference.

With a theme focused on research as a tool for the betterment of humanity, the two-day research conference provided a space for the campus to showcase its research for sustainable development in the Afromontane region and beyond, conducted by academics and postgraduate students alike. The two-day event comprised oral student and staff presentations and sessions, with shorter presentations on the second day.

As global trends continue to challenge society to solve big and immediate problems, there has been a natural turn towards research that can make a lasting impact on local and global platforms. Through student and academic presentations, the conference provided insights into how the UFS is playing an active role in responding to some of these challenges by being outwardly focused in their approaches to problem-solving.

Balancing the sciences, industry, and society

With an intentional focus on interdisciplinarity, the guest speakers – all in different science fields – offered solutions to conducting impactful research through the lens of their own work. Prof Percy Hlangothi is currently an Associate Professor of Physical and Polymer Chemistry at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and inaugural Director of the Centre for Rubber Science and Technology, a research entity in the Faculty of Science at the same institution. By describing his work, particularly on the production of tyres, he focused on the importance of achieving rapport between the sciences, industry, and society.

The second keynote speaker was Lukhona Mnguni, a governance, politics and development specialist and PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He currently serves as the Head of Policy and Research at the Rivonia Circle. Mnguni focused his talk on the breakthroughs of research as stemming from people, and not academic disciplines themselves. Mnguni issued a hard call towards a reflection of what the intellectual and scholarly quest for knowledge is doing to society, emphasising the need for societal involvement in issues pertaining to crises in society.

Prof Dipane Hlalele, Professor of Education at UKZN and a C2 NRF-rated researcher (2022-2027), was the final speaker for the conference. He anchored his talk on the importance of having philosophical frames behind scholarship, and spoke against approaching rural areas as lacking knowledge, to a stance of mutual understanding of knowledge schemes and models of intervention.

Campus focused on making an impact outwardly

Marking the opening of the conference, Dr Martin Mandew, Qwaqwa Campus Principal, said the campus was trying to punch above its weight and evolve its research and knowledge outputs. “We cannot just be consumers of knowledge and finished products that come from abroad. We have to produce our own knowledge that speaks to our own unique circumstances and makes complete sense of our capacities,” he said.

The conference also served as the launch platform for the campus research strategy. During the launch, Prof Pearl Sithole, Campus Vice-Principal: Academic and Research, said the strategy was centred on five frontiers. “We are trying to align what we do outwardly in terms of impact and are working on ourselves as per the commitments of the strategy. We do this excellently, because we want to advance knowledge – there is no question about that – and we put pressure on each other to do that. It does not mean that it will be easy, but we are going to engineer it such that originality and the advancement of knowledge is happening.”

The conference concluded with a prize-giving session for the best oral student presentations.

News Archive

A huge student turnout for NBT
2010-02-24

Ms Babongile Bomela (seated, left) and Mr Riekie Vickers (seated, right) with some of the first-year students who wrote the NBT's. They both acted as invigilators for the tests.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


More than 5 000 first-year students at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently wrote the National Benchmark Tests (NBT).

These tests are used to complement first-year students’ Grade 12 results and provide a profile of student competencies that the university can use to improve the quality of teaching and learning to enhance student success.

This was the first time that the UFS had made use of the NBTs, which were thoroughly piloted at several South African universities during 2009.

“A total of 5 449 students from the Main, South and Qwaqwa Campuses participated in this very ambitious testing process,” said Ms Merridy Wilson-Strydom from the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at the UFS.

“Altogether 7 687 test papers were completed. This is an excellent turn-out and highlights our students’ commitment to their studies.”

It was compulsory for all students (excluding those from the Faculty of Health Sciences) to write the Academic and Quantitative Literacy Test (AQL). Students from the Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences as well as Natural and Agricultural Sciences also wrote the Mathematics Tests.

“AQL targets students’ capacity to engage successfully with the demands of academic study in the medium of instruction, and the ability to manage situations or solve problems in a real context that is relevant to higher education study, using basic qualitative information that may be presented verbally, graphically, in tabular or symbolic form,” she explained.

“The Mathematics Test targets students’ ability with regard to mathematical concepts that are formally regarded as part of the school curriculum and tested in the Mathematics Examination Papers 1 and 2.”

The NBTs have been developed with inputs from over 300 academics from all the 23 universities in the country. They are available in English and Afrikaans.
Data integrity is quality-assured by the Assessment Systems Corporation in Michigan, USA, and further interrogated by the Education Testing Services in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

The NBT results of UFS students will be available by the middle of March 2010. First-year students who do not perform at the required proficiency level in the academic literacy domain will be required to complete a language development module. This module is offered in both English and Afrikaans, depending on the chosen medium of instruction of the student.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
2 March 2010
 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept