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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

Students help to get the economy back to the rural areas
2009-08-14

 
At the launch of Sanlam’s Creativity for Progress Competition for the Ekn 324 group were, from the left: P.J. Bothma, Mr Frank Louw, National Sponsorship Manager of Sanlam, Dr Karen Thomas, lecturer in Economic Policy at the Department of Economics, Kaylee Wells and Eugene Maseme.
Photo: Lacea Loader


Third-year students in the subject Economic Policy Analysis at the UFS are hard at work to think of ideas on how knowledge and expertise can be taken back to the rural areas of South Africa. This is the theme of Sanlam’s national competition for universities called Creativity for Progress with a total prize money of R900 000. This year's topic is "Rural areas are failing to retain and attract skilled people and graduates, resulting in economic stagnation. How would you remedy this?"

The group of 162 students, which is divided into groups of six, must compile a project that is academically grounded, practical and implementable. They must also approach the project from a community service learning perspective and it counts a quarter of their semester mark. To encourage the students, Prof. Tienie Crous, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, has sponsored some prizes for which the groups must compete. Teams of between four and six members will first compete at intra-varsity level to determine a varsity winner. The national panel members will then adjudicate the varsity winners, and invite the semi finalists to the finals. Teams will be assessed on their business proposals as well as the presentation of these proposals to a panel of judges. Last year the group from the UFS ended second in the final round of the competition.

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