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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

Six Kovsies included in Mail & Guardian’s top 200
2017-07-28

 Description: Karla Mostert Tags: Mail & Guardian, 200 Young South Africans, Candice Thikeson, Karla Mostert, Lerato Machetela, Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Thapelo Mokoatsi

The Protea Karla Mostert, who is busy with her master’s degree
in Dietetics at the UFS, experienced a wonderful year
on the netball court. Photo: Johan Roux 

Being on the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list for 2017, gives her a platform to share with South Africa what she does. This is according to Candice Thikeson. “I want to inspire people to follow their passion and pursue their dreams, and Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans allows me to do so.”

The art historian, who is included in the Arts & Entertainment category, is one of six current and former students of the University of the Free State (UFS) featured in the prestigious list. The others are Zola Valashiya (Civil Society), Lerato Machetela (Education), Thapelo Mokoatsi (Film and Media), Karla Mostert (Sport), and Nokuthula Sithole (Politics & Government).

Every year, the Mail & Guardian honours exceptional young citizens under the age of 35 who has made an impact in their respective fields. A special event for this year’s chosen ones was hosted at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg on 29 June 2017.

Making a statement for art historians
Thikeson, a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Bright Young Mind, and recipient of the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary, says she feels honoured. “To me, this means that the impact I am making in the arts is being felt. There are very few art historians in South Africa, and because of this, people don’t often know what this profession entails.”

Inspiring people from all walks of life
She says the reaction from friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances have been overwhelming. “The most heart-warming thing for me has been having men tell me that I inspire them. As women, we are often told that we are inspirations for little girls, but women can and do inspire, challenge, and motivate men too.”
She was appointed as a junior lecturer in the Department of Art History at the UFS in January. This, and being a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, is some of her career highlights. She is also enrolled for a research master’s degree in Art History and Image Studies.

UFS students on the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list:
• Zola Valashiya (Civil Society) – Co-founder and director, Debate Afrika
• Lerato Machetela (Education) – Psychologist
• Thapelo Mokoatsi (Film and Media) – Historian and academic
• Karla Mostert (Sport) – Netball player
• Nokuthula Sithole (Politics & Government) – Activist
• Candice Thikeson (Arts & Entertainment) – Art historian

View the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans here. 

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