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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

Official opening: UFS earmarks R10-million to support national priorities
2006-02-06

 

The University of the Free State (UFS) is to align key areas of its academic and research efforts with national priorities through the introduction of five strategic clusters which would be funded by seedmoney of R10-million in 2006.

Speaking at the Official Opening of the UFS on Friday (3 February 2006), the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, said the academic and research work that will be done in the five strategic clusters would contribute to the development of Mangaung, the Free State, South Africa and Africa.

 “It makes sense to concentrate the university’s human resources, our infrastructure, financial resources and intellectual expertise to ensure that the UFS makes a contribution to the country and the African continent,” Prof Fourie said.

“Strategic clusters will be organised on the basis that these areas of knowledge could become in the short term the flagships of the UFS, meaning those areas where the university currently has or in the very near future is likely to have some competitive advantage,” Prof Fourie said.

According to Prof Fourie, this strategic-cluster approach will be in line with the approach being designed by the National Research Foundation (NRF) to take national priorities into account and would enhance the quality of scholarship at the UFS.

The five strategic areas in which research and academic investment at the UFS will be clustered are the following:

Enabling technologies / Technology for the future;
Food production, quality and food security for Africa;
Development;
Social transformation;
Water resource and ecosystem management;

“Such strategic clusters are understood not only as research areas but as areas that also encompass strong undergraduate and particularly postgraduate teaching and a potentially solid scientific basis for service learning and community service research,” Prof Fourie said.

Within each of these clusters specific niche areas will be identified. Clusters could focus on one or more aspects of a particular discipline or could involve more than one discipline in researching a particular issue.

He said not all academic work and research being done at the UFS would be clustered in this way. Sufficient resources and support have been put in place for general research excellence in the past five years.

“Some of the spin-offs can have an important impact on industrial development, for example in the chemicals industry and may also create a basis for cooperation with provincial, national and international partners,” he said. 

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
5 February 2006

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