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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 awards honorary doctorate to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
2011-01-01

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

The University of the Free State (UFS) will reach a milestone in its history today when an honorary degree, the Doctor of Theology, will be conferred on Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

At the same event Archbishop Tutu will launch the university’s International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.
 
The idea of the establishment of such an institute originated after the Reitz incident in 2008. In 2009, during his official inauguration, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, embodied this idea when he stated that the university would be an example of a place where reconciliation, forgiveness and social justice would not only be studied, but where it would also be applied in practice. “Students and scholars from across the world will come to the UFS to study the theory and practice about the building of societies across the boundaries of race, as well as religion, gender, disabilities and national origin,” Prof. Jansen said.
 
The institute is a critical intellectual space where engaged scholarship, public discussion, community engagement and contextually relevant teaching are innovatively harnessed towards exploring and finding solutions to the complex and challenging work of social transformation in South Africa,” says Mr John Samuel, Interim Director of the institute. Mr Samuel was the former Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
 
According to Mr Samuel, the institute seeks to establish itself as a premier international site for research on race, reconciliation and social justice. “We want to link the manifestations of race in higher education, to the related matters of reconciliation and social justice in the South African context against the backdrop of racial and ethnic conflicts elsewhere in the world,” says Mr Samuel.
 
The institute will, amongst others, publish groundbreaking research, organise national and international conferences about reconciliation and social justice, as well as contribute to the establishment of national and international networks that are actively involved in matters relating to race, reconciliation and social justice. Through its research, the institute will endeavour to understand the challenges facing the UFS better, as well as how to address these challenges. For this reason, the concept of the UFS as a “live laboratory” and the use of evidence-based practice remain important for the university.
 
By honouring Dr Tutu, the UFS recognises the contribution that Dr Tutu has made in the field of Theology through his teachings and the books he has written. However, the UFS is not only honouring him as a moral and religious leader who has maintained his integrity as a Christian. “We honour a great son of South Africa who has made a huge contribution to peace, reconciliation and justice in South Africa and in the world,” says Prof. Jansen.
 
The unveiling of the new corporative brand of the UFS will render further lustre to the day.

Media Release
17 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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