Home arrow Education arrow SA university receives international award

SA university receives international award

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

UFS
The University of the Free State's Qwaqwa Qwaqwq Campus in Eastern Free State.
The University of the Free State (UFS) has received the World Universities Forum (WUF) Award for Best Practice in Higher Education during 2010. The Best Practice Award recognises the most significant practices of the year around the world in higher education institutions. 
 
The university has not escaped controversy in recent years, with claims that racism was a problem on campuses after an incident in 2007 where cleaning staff were lured into participating in a humiliating initiation video filmed by a group of white students. As a result, the university sprung into action with measures to facilitate racial reconciliation between its students. The UFS’s implementation of a number of interlocking innovations to transform the institution is what won them the international award.
 
The innovations include:
 
- Campus-wide racial integration among students;
- The reinvigoration of the academic culture; 
- The nurturing of the most promising young scholars by means of the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Young Scholars Programme;
- Sending 71 first-year students to top American universities to assist with their development into non-racial campus leaders;
- The revision of the undergraduate curriculum to promote a cross-disciplinary approach to key societal problems; 
- Raising the entry requirements; 
- The facilitation of open access to campus leadership through sessions with the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof. Jonathan  Jansen – providing opportunities for public discussion between senior leadership, staff and students;
- The UFS also extended this spirit of dialogue internationally through the inauguration of its International Advisory Council consisting of key thinkers and practitioners;
- Finally, the identification of 20 of the most dysfunctional high schools in the Free State Province and the building of relationships with those schools. This university-school partnership is based on a strict contract of reciprocal commitments to increase the chances of black children attending university. The WUF applauded this as the most innovative step. 
 
“We at the UFS are humbled, but encouraged by the recognition of academic excellence and institutional transformation that comes with this prestigious international award,” said Prof. Jansen. 
 
The WUF said in a statement that these innovations demonstrate the profound impact higher education practices can have when they are well conceived and implemented.  “We applaud these innovations and the ways in which they promote racial harmony, student success and overall academic vitality,” the statement reads.
 
The Best Practice Award will be announced formally at this year’s World Universities Forum, which will be held at the Hong Kong Institute of Education from 14-16 January 2011.  
 
 A message of appreciation from Prof. Jansen will be read by Prof. Fazal Rizvi, Programme Convenor of the WUF 2011 during the award ceremony. 

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