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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

Council concerned over health crisis
2009-06-08

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) has come out in support of doctors and health professionals attached to its Faculty of Health Sciences who expressed their concerns about the health crisis in the Free State.

At its meeting on Friday, 5 June 2009 the Council said it shared the concerns of health professionals that the quality of patient care and the quality of training being provided at the health faculties across the country are being compromised.

Earlier last week doctors and other health professionals of the UFS Faculty of Health Sciences issued a statement highlighting the seriousness of the crisis in health care provision in the Free State Province, warning that the system was on the verge of collapse.

According to the Council of the UFS, a petition will be addressed to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education calling for urgent steps to be taken to correct the deteriorating situation in the province’s health care system.

In other decisions, the UFS Council also decided to confer an honorary doctorate on Judge Louis Harms, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Judge Harms is an international specialist in the field of Intellectual Property Law and has been actively involved in legislation and international agreements on intellectual property law, including the Designs Act, Trademarks Act and Patents and Copyrights Acts.

The motivation quotes one of his fellow jurists as saying that: “Harms is one of the greatest South African lawyers of the last 50 years. He is an intellectual giant who has made an impressive and profound contribution to the development of South African law: He is erudite, visionary, astute and principled.”

An honorary doctorate will also be conferred on geologist and expert on the geology of the Karoo Supergroup, Mr Johan Loock, for his distinguished efforts towards promoting the earth sciences and specifically geology, particularly in the context of the Free State.

Mr Loock has had two Karoo fossils named after him, which is a particular honour in the scientific world of palaeontology. He was employed by the UFS for 32 years and has close ties with the Free State in terms of his wide field of research interests.

The motivation further states that “the man affectionately and respectfully known as Oom Loock, or Malome, has selflessly given of his vast knowledge, expertise and insights into the physical and cultural heritage of the Free State to all who would learn from, and with, him”.

A Council Medal will be awarded to Prof. Johan Grobbelaar from the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS. During his time at the UFS he has been a pioneer in many areas, including the first research expedition to Marion Island, the first PhD about research on Marion Island, the establishment of the Institute of Environmental Sciences as well as the establishment of the Centre for Environmental Management.

Council also decided to refer a report from the iGubu consultants regarding aspects of diversity in student residences to the Executive Committee of the Council so that the benefit of the participation of the rector-designate Prof Jonathan Jansen could be obtained and for further participation and consultation with relevant stakeholders.

In another decision the Council also extended the term of appointment of Prof. Tienie Crous as Dean: Economic and Management Sciences for an additional term of five years.

The Council furthermore appointed Prof. Hugh Patterton as the director of the strategic academic cluster dealing with advanced biomolecular research and Prof. Wijnand Swart as Director of the strategic academic cluster dealing with technologies for sustainable crop industries in semi-arid regions.

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