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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

Shining as bright as her crown
2017-05-31

Description:Prudence Mahlaba  first Black Rag Queen  Tags: Prudence Mahlaba  first Black Rag Queen

The radiant beauty, Prudence
Mahlaba, during a photoshoot
for her #PeopleOfKovsies billboard.
Photo: Sonia Small

The bubbly personality of Prudence Mahlaba gave us a peep into her life. Many may have seen her face on the latest billboard by the main gate of the Bloemfontein Campus, but today we take a look at the person behind the crown.

I am a kind-hearted person. What you see, is what you get, no matter how bad a day I am having,” says Prudence Mahlaba, the first Black Rag Queen in the history of Kovsies. 

Aspiring lawyer a role model for others

This fourth-year LLB student and residence committee member of Akasia, says she always presents her true self. “You are someone else’s role model, so you have to be affirmative.”

“I don’t say that I wanted to do it, but I did achieve to become the first black Rag Queen ever,” she says. Prudence knew that she would make a positive impact and achieve great things. She also hopes to travel as soon as she gets the opportunity. Her relationship with God provides her with a healthy lifestyle, and she confesses that she hardly ever sees the inside of a gym. She spends most of her free time on YouTube watching reality shows.

Empowerment of women important

“Seeing a person, especially a young woman, who is broken and lost, causes me stress and anxiety.”  She believes in the empowerment of young women.

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