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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 ceremony of the UFS Qwaqwa Campus
2006-02-15

Official opening ceremony of the UFS Qwaqwa Campus
11th February 2006 – Multipurpose Hall

Opening Speech:
Prof. Peter A. Mbati
Campus Principal

Successfully rising to the challenges of incorporations and mergers – developing a vibrant and academically stimulating satellite campus of the University of the Free State.

Thank you Mr. Program Director and good morning ladies and gentlemen.

I wish to once again welcome all of you to the official opening ceremony of the University of the Free State QQ campus.  Thank you for taking time to share with us an important date in our campus academic calendar.  I bring you greetings from our Rector and Vice Chancellor Prof. Frederick Fourie.

During such occasions we try and reflect on important matters that have affected us as an institution in the preceding year, commit ourselves to specific objectives for the current year, while planning for the proceeding year.

Today I shall be talking on Successfully rising to the challenges of incorporations and mergers – developing a vibrant and academically stimulating satellite campus of the University of the Free State’.

SRC inauguration
I would like to congratulate the SRC President and the entire SRC leadership for being elected into important positions of student leadership and authority. 

As a university we are proud of the quality of our student leadership on the Qwaqwa campus.  I am confident that you young leaders will rise to the challenges of your office and discharge your duties with diligence and without fear or favour.  That you will rise above your party affiliations and provide effective leadership to the entire student body on campus.
                              
Leadership is complex and requires you to be objective, just and fair in your approach to the many challenges that you will encounter.  You will be judged not by the populist decision that you take when confronted with difficult choices, but rather, on the wisdom that you exercise in reaching consensus in decision making processes.

The era when management and student leadership viewed each other with suspicion and as adversaries is long gone.  Management, academic and administrative staff, parents and students must have common agendas in as far the  quality growth and development of our university is concerned and to strive towards academic excellence.  I leave the challenge to you students, and more so to the inaugurated student leaders to define your agenda in achieving this noble objective.  I trust that you will make the right choices.

Brief history of incorporation
On the recommendations of the National Working Group of Higher Education, the Qwaqwa Campus of the then University of the North was incorporated into the University of the Free State on 1st January 2003.  We suddenly had to move from a campus that was originally semi-autonomous and with its own culture developed over almost 20 years, into a campus that had to operate as a fully integrated campus of the UFS, a 100 year old institution with its distinct culture.

Following incorporation, we not only had to continue with our core business of teaching, learning, research and community service, but we also had to engage in other important aspects such as exploring the most appropriate models of governance for the campus, encouraging dialogue and interactions at all levels between personnel at the different campuses with a view to developing trust between colleagues. And with the added dimensions such as participation in the transformation task team we in effect are at the fore front of developing a new institutional culture at the UFS and a truly South African University.

UFS Strategic objectives
The strategic and transformation priorities of the University of the Free State for 2006 – 2008 as approved by the Executive Management at its retreat in January 2006 are:

  • Quality and Excellence
  • Equity, diversity and redress
  • Financial sustainability
  • Regional co-operation and engagement

Central to this priority is the integration of the Qwaqwa campus as a valuable constituent part of the UFS, and the strategic reconfiguration of the campus in order that the UFS can play a meaningful role in regional engagement and development.

  • National leadership

The five strategic objectives cannot be viewed in isolation and run simultaneously and in concert with each other. 

The Question must therefore be what we on the QQ campus, staff and students, parents and our broader community are willing to do to achieve these strategic objectives. The reconfiguration and strategic planning of this campus, and therefore its success, must be a collaborative effort between colleagues at QQ and on the main campus.  We must all be ready to work together, to plan together, to shoulder responsibilities together and sometimes, to share the pain and disappointments together. 

The second question must therefore be: are we prepared to go that extra mile for our campus to ensure that we claim our rightful stake within the ranks of well respected academic institutions of higher learning in this country?  At this point in its history this campus requires committed men and women from across the cultural spectrum who appreciate the challenges ahead of us and who are ready to give of their best and to constructively engage at all levels to make this dream a reality.  Because this dream is possible and this dream will be realized!

Quality and Excellence (1st strategic objective)

As mentioned by the Rector in his speech at the official opening ceremony of the university on the main campus on Friday 3rd February, the university will in 2006 pay extra attention to Quality and Excellence.  This is informed by the Higher Education Quality Committee’s (HEQC) institutional audit which is scheduled to take place this year.  Our university as well as several other HEI’s will be subjected to this audit.  This will call for a lot of hard work on your part in preparation for a successful audit and in this regard therefore I request for your cooperation.

As a further step in confirming our commitment to quality and excellence, we have simultaneously introduced on the QQ campus and the main campus workshops on performance management systems to a cohort group.  This will be expanded in 2006 to a wider group of managers on the QQ campus to include among others all Program Heads and Subject Heads. PMS is an invaluable tool for fair, effective and efficient management of a very important resource on campus – the human resource.  Benefits of PMS include among others:

  • Instilling and enriching a culture of performance management (quality assurance) as an integral part of the day to day functioning of staff at the campus
  • Improving staff performance through mentoring, development and training

Tri campus project
One of the more important projects that we as a university undertook in 2005 was the Tri Campus Project which was coordinated by the Free State Higher Education Consortium (FSHEC) through Niel Butcher and Associates consultants.

The Tri-Campus project focused on the strategic planning for higher education campuses in the Free State that have been incorporated with UFS and CUT during the reshaping of the South African higher education landscape. The Bloemfontein Vista campus and the Qwaqwa campus of the University of the North were incorporated with the UFS, and the Welkom Vista campus with the CUT.

The planning process involved a range of research and consultation activities during the course of 2005. This included:

  • Conducting situational analyses of the Qwaqwa campus during which staff and students were widely consulted;
  • Consulting with the campus and with a range of stakeholders in the sub-region
  • Review of the Free State Provincial Growth and Development Strategy and Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of the regions and other research of relevance to the sub-regions, province and country.

An operational framework for the reconfiguration of the campus with a range of possible Program Qualification Mixes has been produced.  In December 2005, the Rector, the Vice Rector Academic Planning Prof. Magda Fourie and I discussed this document with senior members of the DoE in Pretoria, and we will soon be meeting with the National Minister of Education Me Naledi Pandor for her guidance and to seek support in the further refinement of the document and subsequent implementation.

Recapitalization
This year a further R 6 M has been budgeted for recapitalization.  In about two weeks time the third of phase of renovations on campus will commence and attention will be given to the administration building, the humanities and the outstanding work in the lecture hall complex.  There- after the library, sciences and education buildings will follow.  As you will recall a substantial portion of the R 8.4 million in 2005 was used to upgrade the student residences and the lecture hall complex.

I am certain that the renovations and upgrading of our infrastructure and physical facilities including landscaping will create an enabling environment for you to enjoy your work and studies on this campus.

Renovations come with some measure of inconveniences and I therefore wish to request for your patience and support during this period.

Closing remarks
There is a heightened spirit of optimism on what the future holds for this campus.  This is evident when I talk to a large cross section of staff and students of this campus – and I therefore invite all of you to come and be partners with us on this journey of optimism and hope of what the future holds for the UFS – QQ campus.

Thank you and God bless!

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