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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

Justin J. Kennedy leads new Programme in Personal Excellence
2012-05-08

 

Justin J. Kennedy
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar
8 May 2012

Justin J. Kennedy has been appointed as the Manager of the new Programme in Personal Excellence. The programme is hosted in the Centre for Business Dynamics, the commercial unit of the Business School.

He studied at Rhodes University and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and his research has been published in various health-related publications. His D.Psych. at the University of California migrated into a Ph.D. with research partner DiscoveryHealth.

While in New York, he was part of the research laboratory Helicor that developed the world’s first hand-held medical device for measuring heart-rate variability of the peripheral nervous system.  This device forms part of the programmes offered to control stress and improve cognitive performance as per clinical trials at the UCT Department of Human Biology. This programme evolved into developing the M.Sc. course work on occupational stress and Ph.D. student supervision.

The programme will launch during the university's Beneficiary Programme for Academic Heads of Department, and will focus on the neuro-economics of stress resilience.

Justin’s most recent research is peer review for an international leadership journal where he has presented evidence on how people can improve their cognitive performance and working memory by building functional stress resilience. The overall aim of the programme is to not only reduce stress, but to improve ability to be excellent at work.  Clinical results have shown it is beneficial for performance anxiety, insomnia, migraine, hypertension control and improved ability at cognitive tasks.  The aim of his work is to ensure that simple and practical skills provide academics, students and corporate participants with enduring, functional techniques that are easily applied in their working lives.

The programme has three roles: to offer services that equip students and academics; consulting services to corporate clients, financial groups and private hospitals; and publication of results in peer-reviewed journals. 

This initiative also envisages offering a postgraduate qualification and selected coaching qualifications.  For more info about corporate interventions and programmes open to students and academics, please contact Ansie Barnard at barnardam@ufs.ac.za.
 

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