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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

Phemelo crowned Miss Free State 2017
2017-06-09

Description:Mej Vrystaat, Phemelo Lekale Tags: Mej Vrystaat, Phemelo Lekale

Phemelo Lekale, a second-year BCom Accounting
student at the University of the Free State, is the
newly crowned Miss Free State 2017.
Photo: Wiaan Coffee Photography

“To me, this pageant is about empowering young women. It helped me realise my strengths and weaknesses; it taught me how I can overcome my weaknesses and use my strengths to the best of my ability.”

This is exactly what second-year BCom Accounting student Phemelo Lekale sets out to do during her reign as Miss Free State 2017.

Bring about change and make a difference

The Miss Free State pageant aims in assisting young women to reach out to their communities and charities to bring about change. The pageant also aims to make a difference in somebody’s life.

Phemelo, who takes over from last year’s Kovsie winner Mienke van Rooyen, said that she needed to grow and learn as an individual, and that is exactly what the Miss Free State platform gave her.

Excited about the opportunities lying ahead

When the announcement was made, Phemelo was filled with so many mixed emotions she only realised she was the new Miss Free State when Mienke handed over the sash. “It felt like someone was saying ‘yes, I believe in you and the vision that you proposed to bring to the table’.”

Phemelo said she was excited about the opportunities that came with being Miss Free State and the impact that this brand would have on society. “By the end of my reign, I won’t be the same woman I was when I entered and neither will I be the same woman I was when I won the crown.”

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