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Ford foundation funds higher education redesign
2005-06-23

 

The Ford Foundation has pledged a grant of almost R280 000 for redesigning higher education delivery at three campuses in the Free State.

According to Prof Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector: Academic Planning at the University of the Free State (UFS), the three campuses that will be affected by the strategic reconfiguration of higher education delivery are the Qwaqwa campus at Phuthaditjhaba and the Vista campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein and the Welkom campus of the Central University of Technology (CUT).

Prof Fourie says the three campuses were all affected by the restructuring of higher education, in line with the National Plan for Higher Education.

The Qwaqwa campus of the UFS that was part of the former University of the North was incorporated into the UFS in January 2003.  Likewise the Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University was incorporated into the UFS in January 2004.

The Welkom campus of the CUT was also part of the former Vista University and was incorporated into the CUT in January 2004.

“These incorporations pose a challenge in that we have to think creatively about the best ways of using these three campuses to service the higher education, training, skills development and human resource needs of the Free State,” Prof Fourie said.

“The grant from the Ford Foundation will primarily be used to draw up strategic funding proposals for the three campuses.  The Qwaqwa campus of the UFS is a priority to us given the poverty and unemployment in a largely rural area of the Free State,” said Prof Fourie.

“A detailed consultation process will be undertaken in the Qwaqwa campus sub-region which will hopefully result in a comprehensive and a coherent suite of higher education activities being established on this campus,” said Prof Fourie.

“It is envisaged that the Qwaqwa campus will become a centre of excellence in the area of rural development.  This vision is based on a focused integration of the core functions of a university – teaching, research, and community service – around the issue of rural development,” said Prof Fourie.

Prof Fourie said that various educational offerings including among others short courses, bridging and foundation programmes, and degrees could be offered, with a particular focus on providing courses of relevance to students from the local rural community and students from elsewhere with an interest in focusing on rural development studies.

She said the redesign of the three affected campuses is being managed as a project of the Free State Higher Education Consortium (FSHEC) consisting of all the higher education institutions operating in the Free State.

“The aim of the project is to establish how the Qwaqwa and Vista campuses of the UFS and the Welkom campus of the CUT can be used effectively to meet regional education and training needs, to serve the strategic priorities of the two higher education institutions and contribute to the sustainable development and poverty alleviation of the region,” she said.

The planning for the Vista campus of the UFS is still in an early stage.  “We are looking at the possibility of developing this campus into a hub of education and training opportunities for Bloemfontein and Free State region.  Further plans will be communicated later in the year,” said Prof Fourie.

Media release

Issued by:  Lacea Loader
   Media Representative
   Tel:  (051) 401-2584
   Cell:  083 645 2454
   E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za

23 June 2005
 

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