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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

‘Your capacity for change is limitless’
2013-09-13

 

Ready for the world - students taking part in the 2013 Leadership for Change programme getting ready to travel to universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Photo: Johan Roux
12 September 2013

 “You will change this campus, city, country, continent and the world, because you have the capacity for greatness,” Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), said.

He addressed the 2013 group of first-year students in the Leadership for Change programme at a farewell function before they will leave for universities abroad. The first 104 students from the 2013 total of 144 will depart on 18 September and return on 3 October 2013. The second group of 40 students will be abroad from 11 to 25 January 2014. The students are from the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses. They will be accompanied by mentors from the UFS.

The students will visit 17 universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.

The first 71 first-year students in the Leadership for Change programme were sent abroad for two weeks in September 2010 to get intense exposure to the academic, social, cultural and residential lives of students in the USA. In 2011 the student number more than doubled and universities in Europe were included. In July 2012 the programme brought students from around the globe to the UFS for the Global Leadership Summit.

Prof Jansen inspired the young leaders, saying, “If you learn leadership values in your four years of study, a change will come. Build the new value system and take it into the country. Your capacity for change is limitless.”

He encouraged them to learn to know the stranger, not only abroad, but also the beggar at the street corner. “Learn to be comfortable with the beggar, as well as with the professor in the classroom.”

A stringent evaluation and training programme preceded the group’s visit abroad, and Prof Jansen could not formulate their achievement better: “I cannot tell you how proud I am of you.”

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