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UFS Medical school to become paperless

First year students at the University of the Free State have all received a laptop as the university is planning to become completely paperless.

The first major steps to a paperless lecture environment for the School of Medicine were taken in July 2013 with the presentation of laptops to all first-year- medical students.

The aim is to have the entire undergraduate medical programme computer-driven within a few years and to get rid of paper in the classroom.

Prof Pieter Nel, Programme Director: Health Sciences at the school in the Faculty of Health Sciences, said, “As far as we know, this action is the first of its kind in any medical school in South Africa whereby an entire class are supplied with computers for this purpose. We also have no knowledge of anything similar in any programme within any other faculty at any university in South Africa.”

All first-year medical students received laptops. The UFS is facilitating the process to provide students with computer access via their own laptops. “The reason for this is that the undergraduate health-sciences programme will be totally computerised from now on. Students will therefore utilise their laptops in all their contact sessions.”

The entire building where teaching takes place is equipped with Wi-Fi. The students buy the laptops at a much lower cost than the commercial price.

Prof Nel said the printing costs of study material during a student’s undergraduate study years can amount to as much as R5 000.

In future, first-year students will receive laptops, computerising the entire undergraduate health-sciences programme within a few years, Prof Nel said.

During the presentation of the first laptops, Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, referred to this action as a big step forward in modernising the undergraduate training of medical students in the faculty.

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