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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

“Deploy your education and not connections,” Chancellor tells graduates
2012-05-16

 

Qwaqwa Autumn Graduation
Photo: Thabo Kessah
16 May 2012

Our Qwaqwa Campus conferred 424 degrees, diplomas and certificates at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony held on 12 May 2012.

Amongst the degrees conferred were two doctorates in Polymer Science, two Master’s of Arts in Geography and African Languages, respectively, five Master’s of Science degrees in Physics (3) and Polymer Science (2) and 37 honours degrees in Education, Zoology, Physics, Botany and Polymer Science.

In their congratulatory messages, both the Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, and the Chancellor, Dr Khotso Mokhele, challenged the graduates to start focusing their attention beyond their graduation on what they both referred to as “the real world”.

“Graduation ceremonies are a fantastic event, but you must never lose sight of appreciating the support given by those around you,” said Dr Mokhele.

“This hall was full of shouting and yes, you must bask in that glory, knowing that you have achieved part of your goals. Yes, this is your moment, so shine. You deserve it. You have earned it.”

“However, this noise also means you must go out there and face the real world. You are graduating in a model country on how people can reconcile, despite their painful and divided past. You deserve all the accolades, but that model country is disappearing before your eyes. How can you mess up what Mandela, Biko, Sobukwe, Nardine Gordimer lived and fought for? How can you mess up such a good thing?” Dr Mokhele asked of an attentive audience that included proud parents and siblings, as well as educators and learners from the Thabo Mofutsanyana District.

“Go out there and deploy your education and not your connections, as these are embedded in corruption. Go out there and help get rid of the patronage system where hard-workers are more likely to be constructively dismissed as they stand in the way of those with corrupt tendencies. Save this country from becoming another Zimbabwe. Let us do whatever it takes to save this country. Let these matriculants who are here today want to walk that red carpet with pride in the next few years,”,said Dr Mokhele.

Dignitaries in attendance included the former Chief Minister of the former Qwaqwa homeland, Dr T K Mopeli; the Executive Mayor of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality, Councillor Tjhetane Mofokeng; Dr SWF Moloi (Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District) and representatives from various government departments.
 

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