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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

African Union acknowledges one of our own
2012-01-23

 

Prof. Maryke Labuschagne
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

The African Union awarded an international award to Maryke Labuschagne, a professor in Plant Breeding at our Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, for her contribution to science in Africa.

Prof. Labuschagne received the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific award in the category Life Sciences – Continental level. This is the highest level of this prestigious award programme.

The African Union Commission is committed to ensure that science and technology contributes to sustainable development efforts. In 2008 the African Union Commission launched the prestigious African Union Scientific Award Programme. This programme was later renamed the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific awards.

The programme is implemented at National level for young researchers, Regional level for women scientists and is open to all scientists on Continental level.

The Continental level is the highest level of the programme. The objective is to give out scientific awards to top African scientists for their scientific achievements, valuable discoveries and findings.

Prof. Labuschagne has been part of our university for the past 23 years. Over the last 20 years she has been involved in training and educating scientists in plant breeding all over Africa. Her work also entails the development of better cultivars to ensure food sustainability on the continent.

“I really did not expect to win this award. The criteria were really strict and one always sells yourself and your achievements short,” says Prof. Labuschagne.

With this award, Prof. Labuschagne also receives US $100 000 (about R 804 180) in prize money, which will be used to renovate her department’s lab facilities and provide bursaries.

The official award ceremony will be held on Saturday 28 January 2012 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
 

 

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