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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 receives R10 million in student funding from Absa
2017-06-19

 

Description: UFS receives R10 million in student funding from Absa Tags: UFS receives R10 million in student funding from Absa

From the left: Asive Dlanjwa (UFS SRC) Prof Francis Petersen, Fikemini Dlamini,
Bertie Smith and Lesley Afrika (student beneficiary 2016-2017)

 

In support of building a more equitable and prosperous Africa, and in response to the plight of students who lack financial aid at universities across the country, Absa Bank handed over a cheque of R10 million to the University of the Free State (UFS) at a ceremony held on the Bloemfontein Campus on 13 June 2017 by the office of Institutional Advancement. The allocation of these funds will assist students who meet the bursary programme criteria (proven financial need, students who are from households with a combined income of less than R1 million per annum, with an academic average of 55% or higher).

Corporate and higher education collaborate
Speaking at the event, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS Prof Francis Petersen highlighted the important role corporates play in collaborating with educational institutions to help support future professionals who are the future builders of the economy and will later lead industry. “Absa and the UFS enjoy a good relationship and it is our hope that this bursary programme will grow from strength to strength,” he said.

In 2016 alone, Absa Bank disbursed R12 million towards settling outstanding fees for 439 students in four faculties of the UFS. In 2017 the funds will be allocated similarly to cover financial needs of qualifying students. Mr Bertie Smith, Absa Management Executive: Central Region said: “The university plays an important role in building future leaders and Absa’s strategy of shared growth supports the focus on education.”

Responding to a greater socioeconomic need
The event was attended by staff of the UFS and delegates from the Absa group, as well as students who were beneficiaries of the Absa Bursary Fund in 2016. Mr Fikemini Dlamini, Absa Head: Public Sector Business Banking, said the bursary programme was born out of the growing need to fund and develop the education of young people, and is a response to the outcry from students across the country in the “Fees Must Fall” movement. He said: “Educating one young person has a knock-on effect that has the potential to alleviate poverty in many families and communities around us.”



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