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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.

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Funding of R8.7million for skills development in manufacturing and teacher training signed over to UFS
2017-06-19

Description: MerSETA funding Tags: MerSETA funding



The MerSETA (Skills and Training Authority for Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Industries) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the University of the Free State (UFS) for a grant of approximately R8.7million on 14 June 2017, which will be disbursed over a three-year period. 

UFS seeks to bridge the skills gap
As a response to the need for skills development in the manufacturing, engineering and related industries sector, and as an institution of higher learning optimally placed to serve the population of central South Africa, the UFS proposed a partnership with MerSETA to address challenges in the sector. The interventions that MerSETA will fund include training for 600 vocational teachers, research and development of a green building mechanical index, in-service training for 60 IT Teachers and microbotics classes for 100 students.

The CEO of MerSETA, and UFS alumnus Dr Raymond Patel, said the funding for rare skills such as in science and engineering are of great importance for the country. The ability to train teachers and to upskill them will yield great results for the economy as a whole. Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen said the UFS partnership with SETAs and with MerSETA in particular should be mutually beneficial, and went a long way in integrating first-generation university students to be better-prepared for university studies.

Collaboration and support key within university departments
The delegates visited the Departments of Education and Engineering Sciences on the Bloemfontein Campus, where they met project leaders Louis Lagrange from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Dr Nixon Teis, Faculty of Education, and Pat Lamusse, Institutional Advancement. Present at the signing ceremony were members of the Rectorate, the Acting Dean of the faculty of Education, Prof Loyiso Jita, and Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Danie Vermeulen, as well as researchers who will be working on the green building mechanical use index and other MerSETA representatives.

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