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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

Kovsie bounces back from heart surgery and raises the bar
2017-07-10

Description: Kovsie bounces back from heart surgery and raises the bar Tags: Gymnastics, Charissa Worthmann, University of the Free State, Biokinetics, Department of Zoology and Entomology 

Charissa Worthmann, a gymnast and postgraduate Biokinetics
student at the UFS, overcame heart surgery earlier this year
and excelled at her sport. Photo: Supplied



“Life is too short to abandon what sets you on fire. Find your passion, work hard at it and be great. You will never look back and wish otherwise.” These are the words that postgraduate student Charissa Worthmann lives by, and which have encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a gymnast.

Humble beginnings
After undergoing heart surgery earlier this year, Charissa bounced back stronger than ever. She went on to win five regional gold medals at the Free State Gymnastics Championships in February 2017 and was also crowned Free State Victrix Ludorum. In October 2016 she won a gold medal for her apparatus routine at the South African GymnasticsChampionships.

Charissa, who is currently doing her honours in Biokinetics at the University of the Free State (UFS), said coming from a small town was not always an advantage. “I come from a small town in KwaZulu-Natal where there are not many opportunities. Therefore there was no gymnastics. I found my natural talent, but never had the opportunity to develop it before coming to the UFS.”

Inspired by lecturer
Charissa’s inspiration is Prof Liesl van As, Associate Professor from the Department of Zoology and Entomology. She is also completing her undergraduate Zoology modules to later complete her postgraduate studies in Zoology. “As a student, our lecturers don’t often realise it, but they shape us to aim higher in life.”

According to Charissa, Prof van As is a woman of pure brilliance who has aspects that every woman should aspire to: Beauty, intelligence and a drive to succeed. “I owe a vast majority of my success to her, because even though she may not realise it, her motivational attitude and success in life drove me to succeed in areas of my life.”

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