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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

UFS celebrates Africa Month
2017-05-24

 Description: ' Africa Month Tags: UFS celebrates Africa Month

Most of the international students at the UFS come from
the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
and other countries in Africa.

Photo: iStock

“Africa Month provides an opportunity
to every student and staff member to
commemorate African unity and celebrate
our rich cultural heritage, diversity,
energy and social dynamism.”

The University of the Free State (UFS) celebrates Africa Month to commemorate African unity and praise cultural heritage, as well as to take ownership of the future of the continent. According to Prof Heidi Hudson, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies, these are reasons to take part in the festivities.

Formation of Organisation of African Unity

Africa Day is the day on which Africa observes the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963. A total of 32 independent African states attended the formation.

The OAU’s aims were to promote unity and solidarity of the African states and act as a collective voice for the continent, in order to secure Africa’s long-term economic and political future and to rid it of remaining forms of colonialism. The OAU later gave birth to the African Union, which formally replaced the OAU in July 2002.

Prof Hudson says celebrating Africa Month forms part of her centre’s institutional mandate to promote an African focus in research, teaching, as well as public debate.

“Africa Month provides an opportunity to every student and staff member to commemorate African unity and celebrate our rich cultural heritage, diversity, energy and social dynamism. Secondly, by participating we all begin to take ownership of our future on this continent.”

She adds that Africa month provides a platform for reflecting on past experiences and achievements, as well as to critically assess the failures, challenges and the lessons learnt for the sake of a better future for the continent’s people.

Working relations across the continent

The UFS has working relations with universities, embassies and consulates in African countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Tunisia.

Five cooperation agreements exist – they are with the Botho University (Botswana), Greater Zimbabwe University, Universidad Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), Trinity Theological Seminary Ghana, and Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary.

According to Kanego Mokgosi, Senior Officer at Internationalisation, there are also working relations between the university and The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, Swedish International Development Agency and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. All of these focus on research development in Africa.

Most of the international students at the UFS come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the continent. It hosts 1393 students from SADC countries.

“The UFS employs SADC protocol guidelines which, among others, enjoin SADC universities to admit at least 5% of their student population from the SADC region,” says Mokgosi.

Memorial Lecture by Dr Zeleza

On 24 May 2017 the Centre for Africa Studies hosted an Africa Day Memorial Lecture by Dr Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, the Vice Chancellor (President) of the United States International University Africa, Nairobi, Kenya.

The UFS library, in collaboration with the Department of English and the Office of International Affairs, also celebrated Africa Day on 25 May 2017. They hosted a conversation on the Land Debate in South Africa, together with the launch of a book titled White Narratives: The depiction of Post-2000 Land Invasions in Zimbabwe by Prof Irikidzayi Manase. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of English.

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