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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 hosts YSI for first conference of its kind in Africa
2017-06-13

Description: UFS hosts YSI  Tags: UFS hosts YSI

From the left: Bryson Nkhoma, a doctoral student from
the International Studies Group, Prof Francis Petersen,
Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, and
Dr Tinashe Nyamunda, a postdoctoral fellow from the
International Studies Group.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

In the first conference of its kind on the African continent, the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein Campus was privileged to host the Young Scholars Initiative (YSI) conference.

Reflecting on the African experience

A total of 65 young and senior scholars from five continents attended the conference Decolonising Africa? The Economic History of Development, hosted by the YSI in partnership with the International Studies Group at the UFS.

The conference, held on 8 and 9 June 2017, provided an opportunity to reflect on the African experience from an historical perspective and to assess the current position of the continent in the global economy. It discussed new themes in development, such as the role of women, minorities and entrepreneurs.

The conference focused on how the business community has operated in an Africa that still faces inequalities and unfair terms of trade and lacks a unified political will.

Keynote speakers at conference

Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said decolonisation was not self-explanatory. “In its radical form, decolonisation presents two polar opposites. On the one side is white privilege and on the other is black pain.”

Prof Ian Phimister, Senior Research Professor at the Centre for Africa Studies at the UFS presented the opening keynote address entitled International Imperialism: The Violent Making of Southern Africa, 1884-1914.

Other keynote speakers included Prof Sabelo Ndlovu Gatsheni from the University of Pretoria, Prof Gareth Austin from the University of Cambridge, and the closing keynote by Prof Alois Mlambo from the University of Pretoria.

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