In addition to the R1 million grant made available by the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) for its Covid-19 research and innovation teams to support government in overcoming the pandemic, the institution has now also established the CUT Covid-19 Relief Fund to support needy students, staff and community members.
While the project continues to support needy students on its registered database, especially with food vouchers, CUT considers the emotional and psychological well-being of staff and students during the adjustment process just as important.
According to a statement released by the institution, its Wellness Centre was strengthened to provide support to students, including via the CUT StuComm App. CareWays was also contracted to provide support to staff on various wellness-related matters.
The institution has also put various plans in place to safeguard the 2020 academic year, and resumed with its academic activities on 20 April 2020 by means of alternative delivery modes, including online instruction.
The institution says that access to appropriate technology and the internet has been a significant challenge due to the deep inequalities between students and thus it has acquired 5 000 electronic devices that will be distributed to students in need across the country.
CUT’s researchers and engineers are currently co-operating with government in different production processes related to the challenges associated with the pandemic. Some of the outputs include oxygen connectors and splitters, masks and mouthpieces, oscillating respiratory devices, non-invasive ventilation helmets, ventilators and sanitisers.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Henk de Jager, says the pandemic shall pass and the “new normal” shall emerge.
“The responsibility to ensure that we will be a stronger, unified and improved society after the pandemic, will rest on us. Now is the time to think outside the box, create new paradigms, and rethink the existence of universities in its current format, including its modes of delivery and impact in society.”
He says we should all embrace the well-known saying, “Crisis does not build character, it reveals it”.