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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

Palestinian Ambassador discusses future collaboration in education and development with UFS
2017-06-08

Description: Palestinian Ambassador  Tags: Palestinian Ambassador

From the left:  Chevon Jacobs (Office of International Affairs),
Ambassador Hashem Dajani, Prof Francis Petersen,
Chargé d’Affaires Bassam Elhussiny, and
Kanego Mokgosi (Office of International Affairs).
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Palestine’s Ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Hashem Dajani, paid a courtesy call to Prof Francis Petersen on 30 May 2017 at the Bloemfontein Campus. Ambassador Dajani was accompanied by Chargé d’Affaires Bassam Elhussiny to congratulate Prof Petersen on his appointment as Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS).

The diplomatic visit entailed discussions of possible collaborative initiatives between the UFS and universities in Palestine in areas such as student exchanges, capacity building and development, and research.

Diplomacy in action - a tool for internationalisation
The UFS has in the past hosted the Palestinian delegation on public engagements held with the university community, including students and the Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice, to showcase the socio-political situation in Palestine through the use of film and panel discussions. 

The UFS has built strong networks with other foreign diplomatic missions in the country which have yielded interaction between diplomats and institutes, students and academics on the Bloemfontein Campus. These collaborations are an important tool for success of the broader university’s strategy of internationalisation.

It is through the visit of Ambassador Dajani that the university and the Office of International Affairs hopes to create firm, future strategic collaborations with Palestinian universities,  academics and students.

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