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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

Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research in development and historical studies
2017-07-11

 Description: Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research  Tags: Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research  

Prof Melanie Walker and Prof Ian Phimister

The Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development and the International Studies Group celebrated its PhD graduates on 26 June 2017. The four graduates were joined by their PhD promoters Prof Ian Phimister and Prof Melanie Walker, the Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, and their families, who came from far and wide, as well as various faculty academics and staff. Their areas of study ranged between Development Studies and Africa Studies, exploring issues that make a significant impact on the Southern African region and the continent as a whole.

In the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, specialising in Development Studies, Dr Faith Mkwananzi, promoted by Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom, explored the lives and educational aspirations of marginalised migrant youth, a case study in Johannesburg. She focused on the complex nature of the daily lives and experiences of marginalised migrant youth and the complexities that influence the formation and achievement of educational aspirations in contexts of vulnerability and disadvantage. The study provides compelling evidence for policy and practice that can make the lives of marginalised young migrants better.

A focus on teaching and learning in Zimbabwean universities with a focus on quality as a human development, was what Dr Patience Mukwambo, put her research efforts into. Her work makes an original contribution to national, continental, and international debates on conceptualising and operationalising the quality of teaching and learning in higher education. She successfully developed a significant alternative approach to understanding what quality in higher education teaching and learning entails, the factors that influence the realisation of quality as she theorises it, and the overall importance for human development and human well-being in universities and society.

Dr Bothwell Manyonga, who also specialised in Development Studies, examined the broader debates on the purposes and practices of teaching and learning in higher education with a case study at two South African universities, with an emphasis on principles of social justice and equity. In the thesis, he developed a model that proposes grounds for (re)thinking sociology teaching and learning to address how the capabilities approach and dominant human capital theory might complement each other in higher education and curriculum development. This takes into account both the instrumental aim of employment, which is of concern to students, as well as the intrinsic goods of critical discourse and personal development.

In the Faculty of the Humanities, with a specialisation in Africa Studies, Dr Abraham Mlombo’s doctoral research explored the relationship between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa 1923-1953, examining the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries from the former’s perspective, highlighting the complexity of the ties between them by examining (high) political relations, economic links and social and cultural ties. “It is through Abraham’s research that for the first time, black experiences of both sides of the colonial border are detailed,” said Prof Phimister.

In congratulating the graduates, Prof Melanie Walker expressed that a lot of hard work was put into training the PhD candidates and they had without a doubt produced work that was of the highest level, at international standards.

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