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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 Council votes on top appointments
2003-11-24

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) today voted on the filling of four senior vacancies, including three posts at Vice-Rector level and one at the level of Dean.

The Council voted as follows:
- Prof Magda Fourie will be offered the post of Vice-Rector: Academic Planning
- Dr Ezekiel Moraka will be offered the post of Vice-Rector: Student Affairs
- Prof Teuns Verschoor will be offered the post of Vice-Rector: Academic Operations
- Prof Letticia Moja will be offered the post of Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences

Two of the candidates, Prof Teuns Verschoor and Prof Magda Fourie, are currently acting Vice-Rectors at the UFS. Prof Verschoor is acting Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Prof Fourie is acting Vice-Rector for Academic Planning. Dr Moraka is currently Dean of Student Affairs at the University of Pretoria (UP). Prof Moja is currently the acting Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the UFS.

According to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, the filling of these senior vacancies comes after one of the most thorough search and selection processes ever at the UFS.

“It is wonderful that we are able to celebrate the outcome of this process that has brought forward such excellent candidates who reflect our country’s diversity. It shows that we can achieve the goals of quality and diversity at the same time,” Prof Fourie said.

Prof Magda Fourie (49) received her Ph D on Institutional governance of higher education in transition: a South African perspective from the UFS in 1996. She joined the UFS in 1998, later becoming Director of the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development and Professor in Higher Education Studies. She said in her declaration of intent her aspiration is to contribute to making the UFS the excellent university it foresees in its vision and mission. Academic planning should position the UFS with regard to its core activities strategically as an institution of excellence that will meet the future from a strong basis of academic integrity and credibility.

Dr Moraka (45) received his Ph D in Education Management on Management of change and conflict resolution by student affairs officers at historically white universities in South Africa from the UP in 2002. He is Dean of Students at the UP since 2001. Before that he was Head of Student Support and Student Social Services at the UP for six years. He was also, among others, a lecturer at a college of education and a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa. He said in his declaration of intent that diversity can become so greatly emphasised that people can be driven further apart. Focus should be on moulding a student community where everyone can feel at home, a community which lives together and works together without destroying what is unique to each individual.

Prof Verschoor (53) received his LL D in 1980 at the University of Pretoria on The criminal responsibility of psychopaths and similar figures. He was professor in and Head of the Department of Criminal Law and Medical Law at the UFS for 17 years before becoming Dean of Students in 1994. He said in his declaration of intent that he dreams of the realisation of projects that are awaiting the enthusiastic support, bringing together and empowering of persons involved by a Vice-Rector that wants to see the UFS prosper in an era of continuing dynamic development. In this he would like to make a substantial contribution.

Prof Moja (46) received her MB ChB in 1982 from the University of Natal and her M.Med in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1990 from the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa). She became a full professor in 2003 at the UFS and has been acting as Dean of the UFS’s Faculty of Health Sciences since February 2003. She said in her declaration of intent that the challenge for her is to manage change with the ultimate aim of both achieving the vision of the UFS and satisfying the needs of the community. Some of the academic challenges include the training of more people from designated groups and rural areas. Careful planning and integration of the curriculum should be done to ensure that all students perform to their best.

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