University of the Free State

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A South African university, situated in Bloemfontein. (Acronym: UFS)


At the beginning of the 20th 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, though the very first department of Afrikaans was founded there , under the guidance of D.F. Malherbe.

In the late 1940s Afrikaans became the official language of instruction at the university and the name was changed to the Uniiversiteits Kollege van die Oranje Vrystaat ("University College of the Orange Free State") and later became widely known as UKOVS, even when another name change - to the Universiteit van die Orange Vrystaat ("University of the Orange Free State") occurred on 18 March 1950, to signal that the South African Parliament had finally declared it a fully fledged, independent university. The students of this university , to this day, are referred to as "Kovsies".

Over the following decades this university developed strongly, and in 1966 founded a Drama Department (with Jo Gevers as first head) and in 19** a Department of Communication Studies. Drama was also strongly featured in the Afrikaans department (notably through the courses offered by Gerhard J. Beukes) and English (notable in the 1960s was the work of Robert J. Wahl)particularly became an institution of higher learning to be reckoned with, not only in South Africa, but also outside the country’s borders.

In 1993 the UOFS became a parallel-medium institution, offering lectures in both English and Afrikaans and in February 2001 it was renamed the University of the Free State (UFS), to reflect the character of the university and its environment after 1996.