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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

Louzanne breaks own world record in Switzerland
2017-06-09

Description: Louzanne breaks own world record  Tags: Louzanne breaks own world record

Rufus Botha (left), coach of the athlete Louzanne Coetzee,
went overseas with Coetzee and her guide,
Khothatso Mokone, for a race for the first time.
Coetzee improved her T11 5 000 m world record with more
than 20 seconds in Switzerland.
Photo: Johan Roux

She fought against illness, had to get the green light from medical personnel shortly before her main race, and was very nervous. However, on 5 June 2017, the blind athlete Louzanne Coetzee managed to improve the T11 5 000 m world record with more than 20 seconds.

The Kovsie star’s time of 18:14.27 at the ParAthletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, was approximately 23 seconds faster than her previous world record (18:37.23). In addition, Coetzee, who works at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State, also improved the South African T11 800 m record to 2:30.18 on 2 June 2017, and her 4:59.54 on 3 June 2017 in the T11 1 500 m was almost another national record.

Carried by UFS and other support
“One could never be ungrateful when running close to your personal best,” Coetzee said. “Fortunately, with God’s blessing, the support of everybody at home, support from the university, as well as my mom and them, it really was a very blessed and successful event.”

According to her coach, Rufus Botha, Coetzee was not feeling well before the event and had to get medical clearance before the 5 000 m. He told her not to run too hard, even though their goal was 18:20. “She ran an incredible final 600 m, which brought the time down to 18:14,” he said. “It was amazing to watch.”

Botha’s knowledge valuable abroad
He enjoyed going overseas with Coetzee and her guide, Khothatso Mokone, for the first time. “His (Botha’s) experience, knowledge, support, and coaching was extremely valuable,” Coetzee said. “It will definitely help me in future: how to approach things, and everything he shared with us.”

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