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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

UFS academics to submit proposal on innovative research for smallholder agriculture
2009-08-04

 
Here are, from the left: Dr Bennie Grové, Department of Agricultural Economics; Prof. Schalk Louw, Department of Zoology and Entomology; Prof. Bland; Prof. Swart; and Prof. André Pelser, Department of Sociology.
Photo: Arthur Johnson


Prof. Wijnand Swart, Director of the Strategic Research Cluster (Technologies for sustainable crop industries in semi-arid regions) at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently hosted Prof. William (Bill) Bland, Chairperson of the Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Prof. Bland’s visit to the UFS was linked to an initiative by Prof. Swart to forge closer links with this university by signing a Memorandum of Understanding in the near future.

Opportunities for collaborative research were discussed with various academics at the UFS, including Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Academic Operations, and Prof. Aldo Stroebel, Director: Internationalisation. A definite outcome of these talks is that six researchers from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. Bland and scientists from the Universities of Makerere and Umutara in Uganda and Rwanda respectively, will submit a joint proposal for a research programme, supported by the National Science Foundation of the USA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The objective of this programme, referred to as the BREAD programme (Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development), is to support innovative scientific research designed to address constraints to smallholder agriculture in the developing world. Prof. Bland also delivered a lecture in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences entitled, Holon Agroecology: A Conceptual Framework for a New Agricultural Expertise. The lecture was followed by a multi-disciplinary panel discussion.
 

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