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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

Student organisation tackles difficult questions in debate
2012-05-12

 

At the debate were, from the left: Danie Jacobs, Head of the Centre for Business Dynamics, Mhlanganisi Madlongolwana, Nombuso Ndlovu and Prof. JP Landman.
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar

 

“South Africa is consumed by a monster, namely the lack of critical thinking and dialogue with regard to our problems. Now is the time to make radical changes.” This is according to Nombuso Ndlovu, who spoke at the first debate in a series of Commercio and the UFS Business School.

“Young people are more interested in social gatherings than applying their minds to the problems of South Africa,” she said. Nombuso is the CEO of Commercio.

Commercio is the student organisation in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Two teams, one positive and one negative, debated the topic: Is South Africa’s current economic direction viable?

What emerged from the debate was that our students are well-aware of what is going on in our economy and that people cannot just sit back and expect government to deliver. Every individual has a responsibility. South Africa has a “democratic deficit” society, a “corruption-stricken economy” and “economic activism” is necessary to get the economy on the right path.

Prof. JP Landman, Visiting Professor at the Business School, economic advisor, analyst, columnist and also managing director of the Aardklop Arts Festival, was the expert panel member. He said the critical issue in South Africa is “how do you distribute wealth while keeping things going?”

“It is fantastic that South Africans have developed a collective repulsiveness for corruption.” People must know what underpins society and where aggression comes from.
– Leatitia Pienaar.

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