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UFS financially sustainable despite sector-wide funding cuts

───   HEIDRÈ MALGAS 14:12 Wed, 28 Feb 2024

UFS financially sustainable despite sector-wide funding cuts | News Article
The UFS Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Francis Petersen. Photo: UFS

“Additionally, I stated that the University of the Free State is actively addressing and managing these complex issues, including those resulting from the sector-wide funding cuts.”

The University of the Free State will be affected this year by uncertainties and fluctuations in global politics and the economy, including government funding to the university.

UFS Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Francis Petersen, stressed the need for innovative thinking in response to these challenges. “Additionally, I stated that the University of the Free State is actively addressing and managing these complex issues, including those resulting from the sector-wide funding cuts.”


Given the awareness of these challenges, the UFS Rectorate established the UFS Financial Sustainability Task Team in the final quarter of 2023 to guide implementable strategies.

This initiative aimed to ensure the university’s alignment with Vision 130 objectives. Recently, the Rectorate has been discussing the task team's recommendations with the deans and Senior Leadership Group.

“It is important to note that the UFS presently possesses a financially sustainable foundation. However, proactive measures are being introduced to sustain and expand this base in the short and long term. Consequently, the university's financial position is being adjusted to achieve the Vision 130 goals, involving the reallocation of funds to ensure long-term financial viability,” he said.

The entrance to UFS’ Bloemfontein campus. Photo: UFS

The following strategies, as recommended by the task team, will be implemented with immediate effect:

1. Spending of unutilised salary savings to be restricted to only remunerated related expenditure in future. Faculties and support service departments must provide a plan on how they intend to spend these unutilised funds.

2. The establishment of the UFS Sustainability Fund, to which 50% of all operational savings, as at 31 December 2023, will be reallocated. A full working document on the implementation and utilisation will be provided.

3. Application for post grading in support service departments (including support service positions in faculties) will be put on hold for 2024.

4. Filling of vacancies in support service departments, including support service positions in faculties, will be suspended for 2024.

Kovsie students on campus. Photo: UFS

He added: “I am aware that the suspension of vacancies will put pressure on our support service staff and can assure you that this does not mean no vacancies will be filled. Positions where interviews have already been scheduled and candidates have been informed of interviews will not be affected.”

He said for the university to maintain its financially sustainable base, they aim to focus critically on cost/expense management, as opposed to cost/expense containment or austerity measures. “We aim to foster a culture of intentional spending, considering the various factors that currently face the higher education sector.”

He mentioned that the recalibration of the budget also does not mean a reduction in resource support, especially for research strategies that support Vision 130.

OFM News/Heidrè Malgas cg

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