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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

75-year-old UFS student follows her dreams
2017-07-17

Description: Hanneke Meyer Tags: Theology, Theology and Religion, graduation, University of the Free State, Dr Hanneke Meyer 

Dr Hanneke Meyer, who graduated from the
University of the Free State, completed her
Bachelor’s degree in Theology
with distinction.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

“It does not matter how old you are, it is all about where God wants to use you, and I believe that this is where He wants me now.”

These were the words of 75-year-old Dr Hanneke Meyer, who recently graduated from the University of the Free State. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Theology with distinction.

Never too old to learn

Dr Meyer, who was a teacher by profession, says she spent all her years teaching others, and when she had children, she went on to teach them too. She then decided it was time for her to get back to her books and become a student again.

After her retirement, Dr Meyer sat quietly and thought what it was that she actually wanted to do in life. She then decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Theology but only registered for a few subjects.

“I registered for a few subjects but as time went by, I felt that this was something that I really wanted to do, and this was something that I wanted to finish. I believed that this would be the course where God would use me for His kingdom.”

UFS faculty best of its kind
Dr Meyer said completing this degree was completely worth it. She would do it over and over again if she could. “I am proud of this university and the faculty too. I believe that the Faculty of Theology and Religion is the best of its kind in the country.”

She encouraged the youth to continue learning. “Don’t ever stop learning. Always be a student because one is never too old to learn.”

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