“We had quite a stable period of registration at the university.”
As the academic year started on Monday (12/2) for first year and senior students at the University of the Free State, the Vice-Chancellor highlighted the institutions’ readiness for this academic year.
Some 250,000 applications were received, but only 8,100 students were admitted. First-time students were welcomed on the UFS main campus on Saturday (10/2).
“Overall the registration period was handled responsibly by the institution, and the communication and the actual actions from NSFAS and the department were exceptional,” said UFS Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Francis Petersen.
“At a higher level, NSFAS has been moderated and mitigated; there might be some outstanding issues but we will work on them. About 64% of our first-year students are recipients of NSFAS.”
Safety issues of students in Qwaqwa or Phuthaditjhaba were raised in the briefing, especially because students were victims of violence during the past year.
“It’s a difficult challenge, and on-campus we don’t have such a major challenge it is mostly off-campus,” said Peterson. “Most of our students live off campus in the town and the villages. We do work with the police but the effectiveness of those interventions are not at the same level as what we would find in Bloemfontein.”
“We continue working with the police in Qwaqwa, but there is nothing more we can do.”
The Vice-Chancellor spoke on protest action on the three campuses and highlighted protests on the Qwaqwa campus are more disruptive than on the main and south campuses. “There are rarely disruptions on the south campus, last year was the first time I experienced disruptions on the south campus.”
He also spoke about the institution’s readiness and whether any disruptions may erupt. “We are well prepared for disruptions but they often have their way of evolving.
“We do have intelligence on the ground, we have social media to communicate, and we have ways of protecting our physical assets, staff and students.”