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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.

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Qwaqwa Campus honours academic excellence
2017-05-18

Description: QQ autumn Graduation 2017 Tags: QQ autumn Graduation 2017

Photo: Ian van Straaten

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Qwaqwa Campus kicked off the 2017 graduations season of the University of the Free State in style when over 550 degrees and certificates were conferred in three sessions on 12 and 13 May 2017. These included five PhDs from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

In his maiden speech delivered during the two ceremonies on Friday 12 May 2017, the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Francis Petersen, emphasised the interconnectedness of graduates with other stakeholders in their communities.

“Never forget the role played by other people who sacrificed a lot for you to be here today. Recognise the extra mile that someone was willing to go for you to graduate,” he said to an enthusiastic audience that included Grade 12 learners from neighbouring schools. 

Prof Petersen also reminded the graduates that not everybody had an opportunity to enter, enrol, and eventually graduate at a university. “You are part of the privileged few, and I am confident that the UFS has given you an equal opportunity to reach your full potential. You have had years of exposure to ideas and experiences on diversity. You now have the opportunity to show the world and to use what you have learnt beyond a classroom,” he added.

“Go out there and open doors for others as much as they were opened for you. I implore you to carry over your experiences of diversity and use them to build a better world. Go out there and build a better world, not only for yourself but for everyone in need. Expand your influence, reach out, and be accountable,” he said.

“South Africa needs your skills,
innovation, knowledge, expertise,
and creativity.”

Make your own unique contribution
The session held on Saturday 13 May 2017 saw the Principal of Motheo TVET College and Qwaqwa Campus alumnus, Dipiloane Phutsisi, having a heart to heart with the graduates from the Faculty of Education.

“Our contribution to the world as graduates will not be measured by the wealth we accumulate or the accolades we receive, but rather by the way in which we share our unique gifts with the world. And the only place to find those gifts is to look within yourself. As the class of 2017, make your own unique contribution,” she said.

“Your graduation takes place at a particularly challenging time in the history of our democracy. It happens at a time when our nation is engulfed by racial polarisation, anger, confusion about what democracy and freedom mean to us, and at a time when the pillars of morality are tested.”

“As you graduate, I wish to remind you that our country needs you more than ever before. South Africa needs your skills, innovation, knowledge, expertise, and creativity,” she said.

Three members of the current SRC were also among the graduates. They are the President, Njabulo Mwali (BSc Information Technology), Sports Affairs Officer, Ntokozo Thango (BA Sociology), and Student Development and Environmental Affairs Officer, Ntokozo Masiteng (BA Sociology).

 

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