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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

Final lecture in Darwin series presented at the UFS
2010-02-23

At the lecture were, from the left: Prof. Terence McCarthy, Prof. Jo van As, Chairperson of the Darwin 200 Committee and Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS, Prof. Bruce Rubidge, Elsabe Brits, journalist at Die Burger and Esther van der Westhuizen, presenter on Groen.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


The University of the Free State (UFS), in collaboration with the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) and The National Museum in Bloemfontein recently hosted the final lecture on the Charles Darwin lecture series entitled “The story of life and survival”.

The lecture was presented by Prof. Bruce Rubidge, the Director of the Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research at Wits University and Prof. Terence McCarthy, a Professor of Mineral Geochemistry at Wits and Head of the Department of Geology. Proff. Rubidge and McCarthy are co-authors of the book The Story of Life on Earth.

Their lecture with the topic “Trends in evolution and their bearing on the future of humankind” dealt with the future of evolution. According to Prof. Rubidge, ninety-nine percent of the species that have ever lived are extinct. “We are living in a time of mass extinction. Fifty thousand species become extinct annually,” he said.

Prof. McCarthy discussed many factors that can result in mankind’s extinction today. The impact of climate change, big volcanic eruptions, a comet or asteroid hitting earth, tsunamis and the collapsing of sea islands are some of the factors Prof. McCarthy believes could cause great catastrophe’s on earth.

“We live on the brink of this all the time,” he said.

Prof. McCarthy also believes that we can avoid these catastrophes. By allowing only one child per family we can shrink the global population with 30% per generation. This is doable in a short time span,” he said.

Other ideas he had on saving mankind from getting extinct is to create extensive ecological reserves on land but especially in the ocean, to decentralise everything, to change to renewable energy, to recycle resources and to be vigilant in doing this.

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