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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

Renewable energy systems an economical investment for the UFS
2017-06-14

Description: Renewable energy  Tags: Renewable energy

The Qwaqwa Campus Arena equipped with freestanding
roof solar panels.
Photo: iFlair Photography

Renewable energy systems are said to be very expensive to implement initially, but in the long run they provide high economic returns.

With their decision to install renewable energy, the University of the Free State Department of Facilities Planning has now also adopted this innovative technology. They have chosen less capital-intensive solar power-generating options to generate electricity in various buildings and parking areas on all three UFS campuses.

“As per the UFS Energy Management Policy, all designs incorporate efficient, renewable energy sources varying from LED lights to solar power,” says Anton Calitz, Electrical Engineer in University Estates’ Department of Facilities Management.

South Campus taking the lead in renewable energy usage
In December 2016, a total of 26 solar-driven LED street-light poles were installed at the recently built Legae Residence’s parking area and the perimeter security area on the South Campus. This low-maintenance system improves security after dark and is independent of the national power supply, which is an important advantage during power outages. With no requirements for major earthworks and cable setting, operational costs are reduced.

The recently built infrastructure also takes pride in being the first to have a greywater system installed.  This system will also be installed at three other residences on the Bloemfontein Campus in 2017. Greywater is made up of bath, shower, and bathroom sink water. The water is reused for toilet flushing, as well as for irrigation purposes.

Various UFS electrical operations to depend on solar power
On the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses, the computer laboratories as well as the Thakaneng Bridge Student Centre and the projected Afromontane Research Centre will be equipped with freestanding roof solar solutions during 2017. These systems are designed to operate independently of the power grid (Eskom).

The systems only operate during sunlight hours when the PV solar panels are heated by the sun, making them suitable for operations such as ventilation fans, water pumps, and small circulation pumps for solar thermal water-heating systems.

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