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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

Research at the UFS on the acceptability and modern use of earth building in newly settled urban areas can help the poorest of the poor to acquire hou
2003-08-26

The University of the Free State and the Technische Universiteit van Eindhoven in the Netherlands received a research bursary of R316 000 from SANPAD (South African Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development).

The aim of the research is to determine the public acceptability of sustainable, high quality, earth constructed public and private buildings as an alternative to the conventional way of building with bricks and steel.

“European countries like the Netherlands are far advanced with studies in earth construction and this is why the partnership was formed with the Technische Universiteit van Eindhoven,” says Prof Das Steÿn, Head of Urban and Regional Planning at the UFS and project leader.

Although research regarding mapping, typology and availability of natural and local resources has been done on a national level, little research has been done on the acceptability and the modern use of earth building in newly settled urban areas.

“South Africa has a large housing shortage and traditional methods such as earth building techniques are not used in urban informal housing. Preference is given to corrugated iron sheets and plastic,” says Prof Steÿn.

The use of upgraded earth construction might be more sustainable as far as the environment and the economy is concerned. “If we can make a breakthrough in the development and propagating of these methods it will help the poorest of the poor to acquire housing of a better quality.”

The research team from the UFS consists of Prof Steÿn, Ms Petria Jooste-Smit, Head of the Unit for Earth Construction in the Department of Architecture and Mr Gerhard Bosman of the Department of Architecture.
 

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