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Kovsies still enjoy successful exchange opportunity
2010-08-25

 
Students Ian Botha, Lize Swart and SW Meintjies with Prof. Izak Groenewald (second from right) at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg upon the student’s recent departure to Virginia Tech. Photo: Supplied

More than a decade ago, the then Chairperson of Free State Agriculture, Piet Gous, in collaboration with the then Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Piet Wilke, started an exchange initiative which still makes a difference to students’ lives today.

Students at the university get the opportunity to go and study at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg in the United States of America (USA) during the second semester. During the first semester the UFS then receive American students. Since its inception in 1998, 142 students have already participated in the exchange programme.

“It is not only about six months’ studies at an American university. It is about the expansion of horizons, the creation of new frames of reference and exposure to other cultures and customs in order to attain and experience more life capacity,” says Prof. Izak Groenewald, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at the UFS. Prof. Groenewald has acted as coordinator of this student exchange programme since 1997.

According to Prof. Groenewald, the secret of the successful programme rests with the fact that Kovsies pay their tuition and accommodation fees at the UFS as if they were studying here. However, they enjoy the privileges at Virginia Tech. Similarly, the American students pay their corresponding fees at Virginia Tech and then enjoy the privileges offered by the UFS. 

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