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University of the Free State

Region: Bloemfontein Country: South Africa

About The University
The University of the Free State (UFS) with its Main Campus in Bloemfontein, the judicial capital of South Africa and in the heart of the country, is one of the oldest South African institutions of higher learning. Our two other campuses are the vibrant Qwaqwa Campus in the Eastern Free State and the smaller South Campus in Bloemfontein.

With the appointment of Prof. Jonathan Jansen as Vice-Chancellor and Rector on 1 July 2009, we entered a new, dynamic era. He is not only determined to lead the institution to become one of the best universities in the world; but also to distinguish our university from other universities. Prof. Jansen brings with him a new vision for the UFS and for the first time our university is poised to take a leading role in higher education in South Africa.

Our university is a multicultural, parallel-medium (English and Afrikaans) institution with a history intertwined with that of the Free State and South Africa and, to a growing extent, Africa and the rest of the world.

A full range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and diplomas are offered in seven faculties to more than 30 000 students, of which 26 000 students are studying on the Main Campus, 1 100 on the South Campus and 3 800 on the Qwaqwa Campus. A total of 2 900 staff members are working on all three campuses.

The faculties are:
Economic and Management Sciences
Health Sciences
Natural and Agricultural Sciences

We are committed to becoming:

  • a world-class, engaged university of excellence and innovation and place of scholarship for South Africa and Africa;
  • an equitable, diverse, non-racial, non-sexist, multicultural, multilingual university where everyone will experience a sense of belonging and achievement;
  • a learning organisation where institutional culture, structures and processes are continuously scrutinised and redesigned to remain optimally fit for purpose; and
  • an institution that treasures diversity as a source of strength and quality.
To be an excellent, equitable and innovative university.

The pursuit of scholarship as embodied in the creation, integration, application and transmission of knowledge by promoting the following within the ambit of financial sustainability:
  • An academic culture
  • Critical scientific reflection
  • Relevant scientific education
  • Pure and applied research
  • Community service
  • Development of the total student as part of its academic culture
The following five core values are regarded as those values of the UFS that arises in all areas and should be respected at all times:
  • Academic freedom and autonomy
  • Excellence
  • Fairness
  • Service
  • Integrity
Brief History
At the beginning of the previous century, a decades-long dream of an institution of higher education in the Free State (then called the Orange River Colony), one of the provinces in South Africa, became a reality with the establishment of the Grey College School with only six (B.A.) students on 28 January 1904.

The first two students graduated in 1905 and a year later the institution became known as the Grey University College (GUC). Shortly thereafter, the school and college parted ways. By 1907 the number of students had grown to 29 and the lecturers to ten. In 1910 the Parliament of the Orange River Colony passed legislation declaring the GUC an official educational institution in Arts and Sciences.

In the beginning the main thrust at the GUC was towards English and lectures were mainly offered in English, but in the late 1940s Afrikaans became the official language of instruction at the university. In 1993 the UFS became a parallel-medium institution, offering lectures in both English and Afrikaans. In the 1940s, to cement ties with its home province, the name was changed to the University College of the Orange Free State. This was followed by another name change to the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS) on 18 March 1950 when the South African Parliament declared the university a fully fledged, independent university.

Over the following decades this university became an institution of higher learning to be reckoned with, not only in South Africa, but also outside the country borders.

In February 2001, the university name changed again, this time to the University of the Free State (UFS). The new name was adopted to reflect the real character of the university and its environment.

Today, this proud institution is bursting at its seams with more than 30 000 students in seven faculties, namely Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Health Sciences, the Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Theology. These faculties offer a vast range of undergraduate and post-graduate courses to South African students, and also students from neighbouring and African countries, and more than fifty countries around the globe.

Our Faculties of Education, Law and Social Sciences were established in 1945, while the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences came into being in 1954. The addition of the Faculty of Agriculture in 1958 was an important step to boost research and make a contribution to agriculture in the region. The Faculty of Medicine was established in 1969 and the Faculty of Theology in 1980. The Faculty of Education, which formed part of the Faculty of the Humanities, became a fully fledged faculty in 2009.

During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the university thrived with many residences and other buildings mushrooming on campus. This drive was repeated in the 2000s with the addition and upgrading of more buildings, such as the Centenary Complex, to celebrate the university hundred years of existence.

Additional Campuses
Our Qwaqwa Campus, formerly a campus of the University of the North, was incorporated into the university on 1 January 2003 as part of a higher-education restructuring process, and a year later it was followed with the incorporation of the Bloemfontein Campus of the former Vista University.

Meeting our Challenges
To realise the university vision to be an excellent, equitable and innovative university, we have adapted our academic courses and managerial structures, as well as student matters, sports, cultural and other activities, in order to function better within the framework of a democratic, diverse university community and to be responsive to market needs. Over the past few years the university has also promoted academic entrepreneurship to meet the challenges of modern-day higher education in South Africa, thus fulfilling its role as the only residential university in the Free State and central region.

We are an important centre for research and have close ties with a number of universities in Africa and elsewhere in the world. The UFS is consistently ranked among the top seven South African universities in terms of research performance.


The UFS Library and Information Services form an integral part of the University and shares in the quest for excellence. We are proud to introduce to you a library and information service that not only provides in the basic needs of a user, but one that operates in a highly technological environment.

The UFS Library and Information Services offer you the opportunities, information resources and facilities that are essential to academic life. Please make use of our and guides for more information, and also see our list of (FAQ's) in this regard. We hope that our services will support you in your studies, and we invite you to with any library queries.

Support Services

Support and administration services are the well-oiled wheels that keep a higher-education institution such as our university rolling. It helps to fulfil our vision and mission of being an excellent, equitable and innovative university. We distinguish ourselves nationally and internationally in academic scholarship, research excellence and the establishment and maintenance of a well-educated staff and student contingent.

Our services provide for staff and students and include services such as an Aids Centre and a Unit for Students with Disabilities.

The Institute

The International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State is a critical space where engaged scholarship, public discussion, community engagement and teaching are innovatively integrated towards exploring and finding solutions to the complex and challenging work of social transformation in South Africa.

The Institute works towards the realisation of this mission through a multiplicity of approaches and methods, informed by the notion that deep and complex social challenges require courageous and challenging scholarship supported by innovative organisational forms and institutional arrangements.

Our Context and Challenge:
There is little doubt that South Africa is a country with great and complex challenges as well as tremendous resources, assets and possibilities. Like many other institutions, South African universities have the potential to play a major role in helping the country to address many of these compelling and complex challenges. In addition, as public universities functioning in an emerging democracy, they occupy a unique space in the landscape of higher education. The capacity of our public universities to realise this possibility will be determined by their ability to address simultaneously our divided past and our vision for a fair and just society.

Building this rich and enabling environment in the higher education sector in South Africa will call for courage, vision, insight and the capacity to confront tough and uncomfortable issues.

While the Institute emerges against the backdrop of the infamous Reitz affair when four white students racially humiliated five workers at the University of the Free State this deeply traumatic event also affords the University an opportunity to confront its divided history in the context of building a non-racial society.

The University of the Free State can make a substantial contribution to the pursuit of reconciliation, greater social cohesion and equity in South Africa. The University is prepared to continue to engage in the difficult, practical and trying work of building a strong, quality institution as it promotes racial healing and addresses the structural imbalances of the past. It is at this nexus that the Institute commits to enabling change at the University, as well contributing to transformation in South Africa. The Institute creates an enabling environment to foster the design, development and the implementation of change efforts within both the University and the broader society.

Whom does the Institute serve?
Working from the inside to the outside, the Institute will firstly serve the needs of the University, its staff and students. It also acts as bridge to the broader community, provincial developmental efforts and serves in return as a conduit from the wider society, South Africa and the world, into the University to broaden its awareness and facilitate its agenda setting and contributions on behalf of race, equity and social justice. International links are important for comparative purposes and wider exposure for the work of the Institute is a prerogative.

The Programmes and Focus of the Institutes Work:
The Institute will remain a small, cross-disciplinary body within the University seeking to work in a catalytic manner to identify opportunities for integrated research/teaching/engagement around issues concerning race, reconciliation and social justice.

In this capacity the Institute hosts sustained dialogue spaces to co-create and design opportunities for development across the divides of race, gender, class, sector, community and culture and contributes to the health and wellbeing of the university community, the Free State and South Africa. In the process the Institute will provide staff and students with opportunities to lead in scholarship regarding social transformation and to encourage cross-disciplinary research that advances knowledge on the issues of race, reconciliation and social justice.

For the first five years, the four following themes will direct the Institute work:
  • Values, Faith and Social Justice
  • Development and Social Cohesion
  • Teaching and Learning for Social Justice
  • Provincial, National, Global Perspectives and Leadership
Activities under any theme include:
  • Led by the Institute in partnership with others
  • Led by institutional bodies, staff or students with facilitation, support and guidance from the Institute
  • Institute-sponsored convening opportunities or dialogue spaces that could lead to wider engagement and involvement with students, staff and community leaders.
Approaches and Methods:
The Institute specialises in creating dialogue spaces where divided communities can come together and safely engage in and facilitate growth, awareness and change through models of collaboration and partnership. Advanced skills sets in mediation, conflict resolution, encouraging rational thought, joint planning and design efforts and reflective practice characterise the Institute.

Research in collaborative processes and innovation (across barriers) will arise from the work and qualitative methods that yield deep understanding of social issues (interviews, group dialogue, narratives, case studies) will be cultivated. Organising techniques to foster human agency and engaged citizenship is a major approach.

The Institute wishes to add value to existing work and to bring a set of skills to the table that can prove catalytic and supportive of the energy and momentum identified on campus, in the local community and the province.

The Institute reports to a Board of ten leading scholars and stakeholders, which will comprise five internal representatives from the academic staff at the University of the Free State and five drawn from universities, foundations or non-governmental organisations elsewhere in South Africa and abroad. The Board meets as often as deemed necessary but at least twice a year. Terms for Board members are three years.

University of the Free State Degree Programs :


  • Bachelor Degree
  • MBBS
  • B.Med.Sc
  • B.Med.Clin.Practice
  • Master Degree
  • MD Anaesthesiology
  • MD Anatomy
  • MD Biochemistry
  • MD Community Medicine
  • MD Dermatology
  • MD Emergency Medicine
  • MD General Medicine
  • MD Microbiology
  • MD Paediatrics
  • MD Pathology
  • MD Pharmacology
  • MD Physiology
  • MD Psychiatry
  • MD Radiodiagnosis
  • MD Skin & V.D
  • MD TB & Chest Diseases
  • MS Anatomy
  • MS ENT
  • MS General Surgery
  • MS Ophthalmology
  • MS Orthopaedics


  • Bachelor Degree
  • Bachelor of Science (Nursing)
  • Master Degree
  • Master of Science in Nursing

Video Presentation

University of the Free State Vice- Chancellor and Rector Professor Jonathan Jansen

In a no holds-barred talk on politics, and leadership.

Contact Details

Address: 205 Nelson Mandela Drive, Park West, Bloemfontein


27(0)51 401 9111

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