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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 research project aims to stimulate reflection on theological studies
2017-06-20

Description: Book, Theology and post Apartheid condition  Tags: Book, Theology and post Apartheid condition

The first book in the ‘UFS Theological
Exploration’ academic series, called Theology
and the Post(Apartheid) Condition
, has just
been released.
Photo: Supplied

 

The first study book with the title Theology and the Post(Apartheid) Condition, which is part of a new academic series by the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of the Free State, is now available. Volume 1, compiled by Professor Rian Venter as editor, is the first book in the ‘UFS Theological Exploration’ academic series, which the faculty plans to release.

Transformation
Professor Venter says the transformation of processes and practices in communicating and creating knowledge has become an urgent task for public universities in a democratic South Africa. Much reflection has already gone into the methods and scope of transformation in higher education.

Although the faculty has done work on the implications of this for theology, there is one area of investigation that has not received much attention. It concerns the role of theological disciplines such as Old and New Testament, Missiology and Systematic Theology and Practical Theology, and specifically the relationship between academic disciplines and societal growth. The book focuses on these challenges and contains the intellectual undertakings of the contributors who are all lecturers, research fellows and post-graduate students linked to the faculty.

The questions
The key questions addressed are: what are the contours of the (post)apartheid condition and what are the implications for responsible discipline practices in theology. Professor Venter says the chapters in the book are logically arranged and moves from wider to more specific concerns. The first three chapters suggest broad perspectives on the challenges for theology in higher education, chart the changes, and make some suggestions for the future.

A dynamic field of study
The book states that theology has already experienced profound and radical changes over the past decade, which is known to us. All the chapters demonstrate these fundamental shifts, which have taken place in all theological sub-disciplines. Professor Venter says the contributions in the book illustrate that theology is a dynamic field of study, and is pursued with enthusiasm and commitment. Not all disciplines in theology are investigated for the book. However, the studies reflect the interests of the theologians in the Faculty of Theology at the UFS. Professor Venter hopes that the volume might stimulate further reflection of a similar nature by other theologians.

New insights
Through the ‘UFS Theological Exploration’ research series, the faculty hopes to stimulate new insights and new developments in academic progress and overall human growth. Series editor Professor Francois Tolmie says it is a fact that strong university research is necessary to achieve academic progress and advance human prospering. He says the faculty's research series will make a valuable contribution to these causes. Professor Tolmie says the ‘UFS Theological Explorations’ contains research of the highest academic standard which has been peer-reviewed to make significant educational contributions to core theological issues in South Africa and overseas.

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