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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

Critical conversations for an intellectually vibrant campus
2012-02-13

 
Prof. Helene Strauss lead a discussion of Khalo Matabane’s film, Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon.
Photo: Amanda Tongha

Our Bloemfontein Campus is set to become intellectually alive this year with a series of critical conversations hosted by our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. The series of conversations promise an impressive line-up of prominent South Africans, amongst them Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Nobel Literature winner Nadine Gordimer.

The first conversation for this year was hosted on 7 and 8 February 2012 with a screening and discussion of Khalo Matabane’s film, Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon. The discussion, led by Prof. Helene Strauss from our Department of English, looked at the ethics of conversing across cultural and other divides.

Speaking at the discussion Prof. André Keet, Director of our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, said it bodes well for the university that it will listen to and view amazing intellectual work. He said, "The critical conversations directly speak to the human and academic project of the university."

The next critical conversation will be hosted on 21 February 2012 and will look at the politics of reconciliation.

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