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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 receives an award from the World Universities Forum
2011-01-11

The University of the Free State (UFS) has received the World Universities Forum (WUF) Award for Best Practice in Higher Education during 2010.

The Best Practice Award recognises the most significant practices of the year around the world. The UFS’s implementation of a number of interlocking innovations to transform the institution is recognised with the award.
 
These innovations include:
  • campus-wide racial integration among students;
  • the reinvigoration of the academic culture;
  • the nurturing of the most promising young scholars by means of the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Young Scholars Programme;
  • sending 71 first-year students to top American universities to assist with their development into non-racial campus leaders;
  • the revision of the undergraduate curriculum to promote a cross-disciplinary approach to key societal problems;
  • raising the entry requirements;
  • the facilitation of open access to campus leadership through sessions with the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof. Jonathan  Jansen – providing opportunities for public discussion between senior leadership, staff and students;
  • the UFS also extended this spirit of dialogue internationally through the inauguration of its International Advisory Council consisting of key thinkers and practitioners;
  • the identification of 20 of the most dysfunctional high schools in the Free State Province and the building of relationships with those schools. This university-school partnership is based on a strict contract of reciprocal commitments to increase the chances of black children attending university. The WUF applauded this as the most innovative step.
 
“We at the UFS are humbled, but encouraged by the recognition of academic excellence and institutional transformation that comes with this prestigious international award,” said Prof. Jansen.
 
The WUF said in a statement that these innovations demonstrate the profound impact higher education practices can have when they are well conceived and implemented.  “We applaud these innovations and the ways in which they promote racial harmony, student success and overall academic vitality,” the statement reads.
 
The Best Practice Award will be announced formally at this year’s World Universities Forum, which will be held at the Hong Kong Institute of Education from 14-16 January 2011. 
 
 A message of appreciation from Prof. Jansen will be read by Prof. Fazal Rizvi, Programme Convenor of the WUF 2011 during the award ceremony.


Media Release
10 January 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

 

 

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