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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

UFS honours young researchers
2006-02-10

Some of the guests attending the recognition function were from the left:  Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector:  Academic Planning at the UFS), Mr Joseph Smiles (lecturer at the UFS Department of Political Science and Thuthuka grant holder), Prof Frans Swanepoel (Director:  Research Development at the UFS) and Dr Carlien Pohl (lecturer at the UFS Department of Microbial,  Biochemical and Food Biotechnology and Thuthuka grant holder).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

The guest speaker was Prof Jonathan Jansen, Dean:  Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria (UP).  He gave tips to young and promising researchers on how to be an outstanding scholar. 
What is a Scholar 

UFS honours young researchers       

The University of the Free State (UFS) last night honoured 24 young researchers who are taking part in the National Research Fund’s (NRF) Thuthuka programme.

The recognition function is the first of its kind at the UFS.  “The renewed focus on research development that was recently announced at the official opening of the UFS by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, is an indication of the institution’s endeavour to create an environment in which research can be improved and flourish.  This can only be obtained when researchers are being valued and that is why it is important to honour our young researchers,” said Mrs Annelize Venter, researcher at the UFS Research Development Directorate and coordinator of the programme.
 
The focus on research was also touched on recently by President Thabo Mbeki during the opening of Parliament when he said:  “We will continue to engage the leadership of our tertiary institutions focused on working with them to meet the nation’s expectations with regard to teaching and research. For its part, the government is determined to increase the resource allocation for research and development and innovation, and increase the pool of young researchers."

According to Mrs Venter, research done in 2004 shows that the majority researchers who publish are white males above the age of 50.  “Many students who undertake magister studies choose not to conduct research, but rather to do a thesis and additional subjects.  This means that research is not stimulated.  Students also find it difficult to obtain financial support for postgraduate studies,” she explained.
“Thutuka is a capacity building programme of the NRF that is aimed to 
fund and support the qualifications of women and young black scientists and other researchers who do not have a rating for postgraduate research.  It is based on a funding partnership between the UFS and the NRF,” said Mrs Venter.

Last night Prof Frans Swanepoel, Director: Research Development at the UFS, added to his by saying:  “With the Thuthuka programme we aim to create and sustain a research culture at the UFS, promote international research and train researchers of a high quality and enhance the research capacity at the UFS by focusing on women, black researchers and other promising researchers.”
 
The programme was started by the NRF in 2001.  At that stage only 17 grants were made countrywide.  Last year 370 postgraduate students took part in the programme.

According to Mrs Venter the programme was implemented at the UFS in 2003.  “At that stage we only had 5 grant holders.  This year there are 24 Ph D and magister students on the programme,” she said. 

A couple of young promising researchers, who will be participating in the programme in 2007, also attended last night’s recognition function.

The guest speaker was Prof Jonathan Jansen, Dean:  Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria (UP).  He gave tips to young and promising researchers on how to be an outstanding scholar.

Nine professors were also congratulated with their promotion to senior research professor, namely Proff Louise Cilliers (Department of English and Classical Languages), James du Preez (Department of Microbial,  Biochemical and Food Biotechnology), Johan Grobbelaar (Department of Plant Sciences), Dingie Janse van Rensburg (Centre for Health Systems Research and Development), Dap Louw (Department of Psychology), Philip Nel (Department of Afro-asiatic Studies and Language Practice and Sign Language), Louis Scott (Department of Plant Sciences), Dirk van den Berg (Department of History of Art) and  Andries Raath (Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law).

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

 

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