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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

Course on sustainable development recognised at COP 17
2011-12-07

 

Some participants of the PED Nexus Programme during a field trip are from left: Jacques van Zuydam, Chief Director: Population and Development at the national  Department of Social Development; Prof. André Pelser, course coordinator (UFS); Prof. Sosten Chiotha, Director, LEAD Southern and Eastern Africa; and Dr Nola Redelinghuys, course facilitator (UFS).

The University of the Free State (UFS) received a nod of approval at the COP 17 Climate Change Conference in Durban for a short course it presents in partnership with the Chief Directorate Population and Development, United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), LEAD International and SANParks.

The UFS received an honourable mention in a press release from the Department of Social Development for the short course entitled ‘Leadership Training in Sustainable Development: The Population, Environment and Development (PED) Nexus’. The release was issued as part of COP17. It mentions that the course is recognised in a publication of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as one of ten innovative experiences and best practices in population and development in the developing world.
 
Prof. André Pelser, UFS Professor in Sociology, says the university played a key role in the development and implementation of the course. The UFS has been presenting the course since its inception in 2005.   Similar courses under the banner of the PED Nexus, although in a totally different format, are also presented at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Cape Town. A total of 21 courses have been presented nationwide since 2005, of which the UFS has hosted eight. More than 230 participants from all over the world have been trained in these eight short nine-day courses.
 
The PED Nexus Programme focuses on the interrelationships of population, environment and development and its significance for sustainable human development and is closely linked to the implementation of the national Population Policy for South Africa. The press release reads that the programme is implemented in the form of short courses that target professionals and managers in governments at all levels as well as non-governmental agencies responsible for the implementation of programmes related to sustainable development.
 
Prof. Pelser and Dr Nola Redelinghuys, also from the Department of Sociology, have recently been tasked by the National Department of Social Development to upgrade the course outline.  The next course will run from 17-25 April 2012. As in the case of pervious courses, the first six days will be hosted on our main Campus in Bloemfontein, whereafter course participants and their facilitators depart to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park for the practical part of the course. 

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