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02 May 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
South Campus UAP celebrates 27 years of access to education
Mr Francois Marais, Prof Kalie Strydom, Prof Daniella Coetzee (South Campus Principal), Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Nthabeleng Rammile (Vice-Chairperson of the UFS Council), and Dr Khotso Mokhele (Chancellor of the UFS).

More than 27 years ago, international funding from the Human Sciences Research Council and Anglo American was put to an unusual use for that time. Prof Kalie Strydom’s research unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) was tasked with reviewing how institutional missions would change in the new South Africa. Prof Strydom worked closely with surrounding communities in Bloemfontein to develop a bridging course which would help students who showed potential to access tertiary education, although they did not meet the requirements. His vision brought to birth the University Access Programme (UAP), as it is known today, which is hosted on the UFS South Campus, and is still providing unique access to higher-education institutions in South Africa.

People with a passion for human development
March 2018 saw the 27th anniversary of this remarkable initiative, which has given a second chance to over 18 000 students. Special guests at the event included Prof Strydom, Mr Francois Marais, and representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Investec’s corporate social investment office.

Dr Sonja Loots, researcher in the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), singled out two key individuals in the formation of the UAP: Prof Kalie Strydom, who initiated the programme, and Mr Marais, who has been Director of the UAP since its inception. Dr Loots highlighted one of the driving forces behind Prof Strydom’s perseverance, vision, and determination with the UAP by quoting from an interview with him for an upcoming book on student access and success. He said, “It was a decision based on principle … to be part of the solution to a better country.”

Access and success still an issue today
In his presentation on the “Importance of Access”, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, pointed out the vital role of access in South Africa, especially the value it offers for the betterment of the country’s people. However, he said that student success is also an issue, and institutions need to be accountable for it. Quoting Prof John Martin of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Engineering, “We must be flexible on access, but robust on success.” Only by “closing the loop” in this way, can the UFS and other higher-education institutions ensure a valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

News Archive

Council on Higher Education LLB qualification review not yet complete
2017-05-16

The reaction from various stakeholders following the ‘Outcomes of the National Review of the LLB Qualification’ by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) on 12 April 2017 requires the CHE to clarify that the national review process has not been completed and is ongoing.

The peer-review process conducted under the auspices of the CHE is based on the LLB Standards Document which was developed in 2014-2015 with input from higher-education institutions and the organised legal profession. Following self-review and site visits by peers, the process is now at the point where commendations and shortcomings have been identified, and the statement of 12 April reflects those findings. All law faculties and schools have been asked to improve their LLB programmes to meet the LLB Standard, and no LLB programme has been de-accredited. All institutions retain the accreditation they had before the Review process began and all institutions are working towards retaining their accreditation and improving their LLB programmes.

The South African Law Deans’ Association (SALDA) has issued a set of responses regarding the LLB programme review. The following questions and answers were published to give more clarity on the questions raised.

1.    What is the effect of a finding of conditional accreditation?
The programme remains accredited.

(“Accreditation refers to a recognition status granted to a programme for a stipulated period of time after an HEQC evaluation indicates that it meets minimum standards of quality.”)

The institution must submit a progress report by 6 October 2017 that indicates how short-term aspects raised in the HEQC reports have been addressed and an improvement plan to indicate how longer-term aspects will be addressed.

2.    What is the effect of a finding of notice of withdrawal of accreditation?
The programme remains accredited.

The institution must submit an improvement plan by 6 October 2017 to indicate how the issues raised in the HEQC report will be addressed, including time frames.

3.    How does the finding of notice of withdrawal affect current students?
Students currently enrolled for the LLB programme at any institution are not affected at all. They will graduate with an accredited qualification.

4.    How does the finding of notice of withdrawal affect new applicants?
The programmes remain accredited and institutions may enrol new students as usual. This also includes students completing BA/BCom (Law) programmes who wish to continue with the LLB programme.

5.    How does the finding of notice of withdrawal affect prior graduates?
Degrees previously conferred are not affected.

6.    What happens when the improvement plans are submitted in October 2017?
The CHE will evaluate the plans when they are submitted, and the programmes remain accredited until a decision is taken whether the improvement plan is sufficient and has been fully given effect to or not. The institutions will have to submit progress reports to the CHE indicating implementation of measures contained in the improvement plan.

Should a decision at some stage be taken that a programme’s accreditation must be withdrawn, a teaching-out plan would be implemented so that all enrolled students would have the opportunity to graduate with an accredited degree.

For more information on the CHE’s pronouncement please contact Moleboheng Moshe-Bereng on MosheBerengMF@ufs.ac.za.

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