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University of the Free State

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Public university

(acting)Nicky Morgan

+27 51 401 9111



Francis Petersen

Number of students

Blue, Grey, Cherry Red

Former names
Grey College(1904-1906) Grey University College (1906-1940s) University College of the Orange Free State (1940s-1950) University of the Orange Free State / Universiteit van die Oranje Vrystaat (1950-2001)

Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

205 Nelson Mandela Dr, Westdene, Bloemfontein, 9301, South Africa

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

Undergraduate tuition and fees
18,248 ZAR (2011), International tuition: 27,372 ZAR (2011)

Notable alumni
Leon Schuster, P W Botha, Wayde van Niekerk, Rolene Strauss, Charles Robberts Swart

University of Johannesburg, North‑West University, Central University of Techno, University of South Africa, University of Pretoria


University of the free state south campus student housing

The University of the Free State is a multi campus public university in Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State and the judicial capital of South Africa.


First years swimming gala on the university of the free state s bloemfontein campus


The long-held dream of an institution of higher education in the Free State became a reality in 1904 when the Grey College first accepted matriculants for a full B.A. course. In 1906 the tertiary part of Grey College became known as the Grey University College (GUC), but shortly thereafter the school and college parted ways. In 1910, the Parliament of the Orange River Colony passed legislation declaring the GUC an official educational institution in the fields of the Arts and Sciences.

Initially, the medium of instruction was English, but later this changed to be bilingual and included Afrikaans. The name was changed to the University College of the Orange Free State—the Afrikaans version of this name change is the source of the word used to this day to refer to students of the University ("Kovsies"). In the late 1940s, the medium of instruction was changed to Afrikaans. The University was declared a full-fledged, independent university in 1950, and the name was again changed to the University of the Orange Free State.

In 1993, it adopted a system of parallel-medium tuition. Today, all classes are offered in Afrikaans and English. Subsequent to the adoption in 1999 of a new university statute, the UFS entered a significant growth period. Today, the University of the Free State boasts more students than ever in its history.

In February 2001, the University's name changed to the University of the Free State, which was adopted to reflect the real character of the institution and its environment. In 2004, the University celebrated its centenary.


The university's Bloemfontein Campus is near the city centre. The university also has two additional satellite campuses. One is also situated in Bloemfontein, referred to as South Campus, and the other in Qwaqwa that was, until 2003, part of the University of the North.

The University sports facilities cater for more than 20 sports, medical facilities and cultural activities, ranging from the political arena to outdoor life and the creative arts. It has a student centre, a student newspaper and a campus radio station. In addition, students have access to a library, a career and guidance centre, a student theatre and a computer centre.

Academic divisions

  • Economic and Management Sciences
  • Education
  • Health Sciences
  • Law
  • Natural and Agricultural Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Theology
  • University of the Free State Business School
  • Notable alumni

    Main List: Notable Alumni of the University of the Free State
  • Bram Fischer (1908-1975): Grandson of Abraham Fischer, lawyer, and notable anti-apartheid activist, including legal defense of anti-apartheid figures, such as Nelson Mandela.
  • P.W. Botha (1916-2006): Prime Minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive state president from 1984 to 1989.
  • Hansie Cronje (1969-2002): Controversial South African cricketer and captain of the South African national cricket team in the 1990s.
  • Leon Schuster (1951-): Well known South African filmmaker, comedian, actor, presenter and singer.
  • Colin Ingram (1985-): Cricketer of the current South African national cricket team.
  • Susan Vosloo : South Africa's first female cardio-thoracic surgeon.
  • Rolene Strauss (1992-): Miss World 2014
  • Wayde van Niekerk (1992-): 400m world record holder.
  • Notable staff

  • Category:University of the Free State faculty
  • Ranking

    In 2010 Webometrics ranked the university the 9th best in South Africa and 2095th in the world.

    Racial integration, re-segregation, and controversy

    After having previously been open only to whites, UFS admitted its first black students in the early 1990s, as apartheid in South Africa began to end. Large majorities of students of all races supported racial integration of the housing facilities, and for several years UFS was seen as a model integration project. However, in the mid- to late-1990s, blacks began to form a larger percentage of the student body (they are 85% of the population of the Free State province) and began to be less enthusiastic about continuing traditions from the white-only history of UFS. After a 1996 riot, the UFS student residences became de facto re-segregated. Furthermore, as classes became offered in English as well as Afrikaans, classes also became segregated as whites favoured Afrikaans-language classes and blacks favoured English-language classes.

    The university faced controversy in late February 2008 following a video made by four white students of the Reitz residence which was referred to as being a protest against racial integration on the campus. The real motive behind the making of the video is still debatable. The video depicted five black workers being subjected to various mock activities, including being forced to consume food which appeared to have been urinated on. The video received coverage from both South African and international media and condemnation from most major political parties in South Africa, and led to riots and racial strife among students at the university. In riots that followed the video, threats were made against white students by protesting black students.

    The council of the university closed the Reitz hostel over the incident and the incident triggered a broader investigation into racism in education by the Department of Education (South Africa).

    The then-new Vice-Chancellor, Jonathan Jansen - a strong proponent of intellectual freedom and the first black president of UFS - was appointed and he has subsequently initiated a process for campus-wide racial integration among students which included inviting the four students to continue with their studies at the university. In 2010 The university was awarded the World Universities Forum Award for Best Practice in Higher Education which praised amongst other the racial integration and harmonisation of the student community. On receiving her honorary doctorate from the university, Oprah Winfrey called the transformation of the university as "nothing short of a miracle" when referring to the incident and subsequent racial integration.


    University of the Free State Wikipedia