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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

Kovsies salute its Guinness World Record Holder
2012-02-03

 

Volksblad journalist Christal-Liza Thomas interviewed Hermann van Heerden.
Photo: Amanda Tongha


He had to wait three months for the Guinness World Record office to verify his world-record attempt but it is now official. Kovsie-student Hermann van Heerden is a Guinness World Record holder.

On 01 February 2012 the B.Ed. Kovsie student proudly showed his certificate to Prof. Jonathan Jansen and others at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). In October 2011 Hermann, who was born with spina bifida, a developmental congenital disorder, wheeled himself into the record books by holding a stationary wheelie in his wheelchair for 10 hours and 1 second.

He achieved this record as part of celebrations marking a decade of existence for the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) at the UFS.

With the support of his fellow Kovsies, Hermann embarked on his record attempt on 11 October last year. He started at 03:15 and held his wheelie until 13:16.

The minimum time set for Hermann to achieve a Guinness World Record was four hours and he bettered this by six hours. During his attempt, the Kovsie student did not have any food or water and was not allowed a bathroom break.

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