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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

DiMTEC hosts second conference on disaster risk reduction
2009-06-02

 
Dr Anthony Turton, the Director: TouchStone Resources (Pty) Ltd. delivered the opening address at this year’s two-day annual international conference on disaster risk reduction that was presented by the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC) at the University of the Free State (UFS).

In his presentation: Sitting on the horns of a dilemma: South Africa and its strategic water supply, he said: “We have simply reached the limit of the water resources in South Africa. On the one hand, we deal with the quantity dilemma in terms of strategic water storage. South Africa and Zimbabwe counts under the top 20 countries in the world in terms of dams built. We can only build about ten more dams.”

“On the other hand, we must deal with quantity. Previous solutions are not future solutions. When water is recycled, hormones such as oestrogen do not disappear. We must become creative and do something else,” he said.

“Science can make a difference. The UFS is well placed in terms of its groundwater research. Universities must invest in the necessary technology because the testing of toxins is essential. We must work in ways to prevent toxins from re-entering the water cycle,” he said.

A number of international speakers such as Dr Fabrice Renaud, Associate Director at the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, Germany, Dr Eugene Poolman, Chief Forecaster: Disaster Risk Reduction, South African Weather Service, and Prof. Rob Bragg from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the UFS, attended the conference, as well as attendees from 11 different countries.

At the conference were, from the left: Mr Andries Jordaan, Director: DiMTEC at the UFS; Dr Ing Jörn Birkmann, Head of Section: Vulnerability Assessment at the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS); Dr Anthony Turton, Director: TouchStone Resources (Pty) Ltd.; and Dr Fabrice Renaud, Associate Director: UNU-EHS.
Photo: Supplied

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