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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

Census 2011 overshadowed by vuvuzela announcements
2012-11-20

Mike Schüssler, economist
Photo: Hannes Pieterse
15 November 2012

Census 2011 contains good statistics but these are overshadowed by vuvuzela announcements and a selective approach, economist Mike Schüssler said at a presentation at the UFS.

“Why highlight one inequality and not another success factor? Is Government that negative about itself?” Mr Schüssler, owner of Economist.co.za, asked.

“Why is all the good news such as home ownership, water, lights, cars, cellphones, etc. put on the back burner? For example, we have more rooms than people in our primary residence. Data shows that a third of Africans have a second home. Why are some statistics that are racially based not made available, e.g. orphans? So are “bad” statistics not always presented?”

He highlighted statistics that did not get the necessary attention in the media. One such statistic is that black South Africans earn 46% of all income compared to 39% of whites. The census also showed that black South Africans fully own nearly ten times the amount of houses that whites do. Another statistic is that black South Africans are the only population group to have a younger median age. “This is against worldwide trends and in all likelihood has to do with AIDS. It is killing black South Africans more than other race groups.”

Mr Schüssler also gave insight into education. He said education does count when earnings are taken into account. “I could easily say that the average degree earns nearly five times more than a matric and the average matric earns twice the pay of a grade 11.”

He also mentioned that people lie in surveys. On the expenditure side he said, “People apparently do not admit that they gamble or drink or smoke when asked. They also do not eat out but when looking at industry and sector sales, this is exposed and the CPI is, for example, reweighted. They forget their food expenditure and brag about their cars. They seemingly spend massively on houses but little on maintenance. They spend more than they earn.”

“On income, the lie is that people forget or do not know the difference between gross and net salaries. People forget garnishee orders, loan repayments and certainly do not have an idea what companies pay on their behalf to pensions and medical aid. People want to keep getting social grants so they are more motivated to forget income. People are scared of taxes too so they lower income when asked. They spend more than they earn in many categories.”

On household assets Mr Schüssler said South Africans are asset rich but income poor. Over 8,3 million black African families stay in brick or concrete houses out of a total of 11,2 million total. About 4,9 million black families own their own home fully while only 502 000 whites do (fully paid off or nearly ten times more black families own their own homes fully). Just over 880 000 black South Africans are paying off their homes while 518 000 white families are.

Other interesting statistics are that 13,2 million people work, 22,5 million have bank accounts, 19,6 million have credit records. Thirty percent of households have cars, 90% of households have cellphones and 80% of households have TVs.
 

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