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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

Van Niekerk shines in Ostrava and breaks 300 m world record
2017-06-29

Description: Van Niekerk shines in Ostrava  Tags: Van Niekerk shines in Ostrava

Wayde van Niekerk is in great form leading up to the
World Championships in London in August.
Photo: Khothatso Mokone

Usain Bolt believes Wayde van Niekerk could well be his successor. Bolt, who has won eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals in his career, doesn’t doubt that the Kovsie athlete could take over the reins as an athletic superstar.

This after Van Niekerk broke another world record by Michael Johnson – 30.85 seconds in the 300 m which Johnson set in Pretoria in 2000 – at the IAAF Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 28 June 2017. He took the honours in the 300 m in a time of 30.81 seconds. In 2016, Van Niekerk also improved on Johnson’s 400 m world record (43.18 s) with a time of 43.03 s at the Rio Olympics.

Unique honour over four distances
Because the 300 m event is not run very often, the record will be regarded as the world’s best by the IAAF. According to the IAAF, the 24-year-old Van Niekerk is now also the first man to run a sub-10 for the 100 m, sub-20 for 200 m, sub-31 for 300 m, and sub-44 for 400 m.

The legendary Bolt, who is in his final season, admitted that Van Niekerk could take over from him. “I think he really wants to be a sprinter, because he's set a personal best in the 100 m this year,” he said to AFP.

“He's shown that he's ready for the challenge. He's really down to earth, he's really humble, he's a great person. He listens and wants to be good, and if he continues like this he'll take over track and field."

Great run prior to Czech Republic
The 300 m world record follows after Van Niekerk also ran a personal best time of 9.94 in the 100 m in Velenje, Slovenia, on 20 June 2017. The 400 m world record-holder also became the South African record-holder in the 200 m again when ran a 19.84 in the 200 m at the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston, Jamaica, on 11 June 2017.

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