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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

Young language Einstein set for Europe
2017-07-10

Description: Young language Einstein set for Europe Tags: Recipient of UFS Senate medal receives Erasmus Mundus master’s bursary.  

Willem Carel Brink will be studying in France and Italy
for the next 
two years as part of his master’s
degree programme
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

German, French, English and even Latin are just a few of the languages known by Kovsies’ own language guru, Willem Carel Brink.

This arty junior lecturer and 2015 Senate and Dean’s medal recipient at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French at the University of the Free State (UFS) received the Erasmus-Mundus bursary to conduct his master’s degree under the Erasmus Mundus Master en Cultures Littératures Européennes (CLE) title. He departs for Europe in September. “It is a structured interdisciplinary study which focuses on European literature, culture and other aspects,” Willem says. The subject for his thesis will be determined during the duration of the course.

Two-year course under Erasmus Mundus 
The Erasmus CLE master’s is a two-year course which is presented by five partner universities in France, Senegal, Italy and Greece. Students are expected to indicate at which universities they want to study but cannot spend both years at the same university. “France was my first choice, because I know the language – which was a prerequisite for selection,” said Willem. He is fluent in Afrikaans, English, German and French! 

“I will spend my second year in Bologna, Italy,” he said. It is therefore also expected that he does an Italian course during the first year to prepare him for the second year in Italy.

Future collaboration with UFS a prospect
Future collaborations between him and the language departments at the UFS are possible prospects for the future when he returns. “What makes this degree especially attractive to me is that it has value in terms of the local environment in the teaching of European languages and literature.” 

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