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University of the Free State
Bloemfontein, South Africa


University description (as per official university website)

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.

Brief History

An aerial photo of our Main Campus taken in 1930.
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’s borders.

In February 2001, the university’s 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’s 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’s 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.

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
Our motto:
In Veritate Sapientiae Lux
(In Truth is the Light of Wisdom)

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