Safety of off-campus students prioritised

2019-12-04 06:01

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Safety Champions, a group which advocates for the safety of students, is expected to present reports focused on crime prevention in January, just in time for the new academic year.

The decision to submit both external and internal reports is aimed at safeguarding students, especially those living off-campus.

The Higher Education Safety Summit, held at the Bloemfontein campus on 18 and 19 October, saw a cohort of 165 students of the three universities in the central region – the UFS, the Central University of Technology and the Sol Plaatje University. The UFS Safety Champions was formed as part of the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice.

Sikhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president and leader of the UFS Safety Champions, said the heads of Protection Services of the three institutions devised a safety blueprint specifically focused on the off-campus environment.

“A strategic safety plan around the zoning of student communes was developed. This will assistdeveloping a system that will assist universities in establishing where students live by using technology such as a geographic information system,” said Luwaca.

The goals of the summit were threefold. Firstly, the intention was to build a network between the students and staff of all institutions involved so that skills and knowledge can be shared. Secondly, the idea was to gather and consolidate input from the higher-learning institutions, thereby diversifying the solutions.

Thirdly, the purpose was to create an official platform where partners could consult on interventions that will create a ripple effect, starting locally, to stimulate change on both provincial and national level.

The summit aimed at achieving threefold goals. Firstly, to build capacity between students and staff of all three institutions involved to implement programmes by transferring the skills and knowledge between one another.

Secondly, gather and consolidate input from the various higher-learning institutions and by so doing diversify the solutions. Thirdly the summit was to create an official platform where partners may consult on interventions that will ripple from the local, to the provincial and further to national level.

Luwaca said the rental tribunal came on board to assist with rental disputes between students and landlords, adding that accreditation issues were being discussed.

According to Luwaca, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality also committed to assist the universities by combating crime and enforcing bylaws.

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