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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 academic discusses Dutch, Afrikaans and African languages
2006-05-22

During the colloquium presented in Belgium by the Province Antwerp were from the left Prof Pol Cuvelier (University of Antwerp), Prof Theo du Plessis (Director: Unit for Language Management at the UFS), Mr Ludo Helsen (Permanent Deputy: Province of Antwerp) and Mr Jean-Pierre Rondas (Flemish radio journalist).

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UFS academic discusses Dutch, Afrikaans and African languages at international conference

Prof Theo du Plessis, Director of the Unit for Language Management at the University of the Free State (UFS), was the main speaker at a colloquium titled “Routes:  Where to now? - Een traject van het Nederlands naar het Afrikaans en de Afrikatalen”, which was recently presented by the Province Antwerp in Belgium.

 The aim of the colloquium was to discuss the future cooperation in the field of language between the Province Antwerp and South Africa. 

 The Province Antwerp is already involved with projects in South Africa.  One of these projects is the Multilingual Information Development Programme (MIDP), a partnership project between the UFS and the Free State Province that is mainly funded by the Province Antwerp. 

 The project has been running since 1999 and was recently in the news with the presentation of a symposium on multilingualism and exclusion on the Main Campus of the UFS.  It is hoped that the Routes colloquium will indicate new stages on which can be added to the already successful cooperation in the area of language.

 Prof Du Plessis’s presentation titled “Nederlands, Afrikaans en die Afrikatale – kan samewerking slaag? Die geval MIDP in die Vrystaat”, investigated the successes that have been made with the MIDP.  He discussed two possible approaches to cooperation in the areas of language, that of a sentimentalistic  approach against an instrumentalistic approach. 

Cooperation in the first approach makes language the aim.  In the second approach language is used as a means to a greater aim.  According to Prof du Plessis the first approach is driven by a romantisised idea about the relation between the Flemish and Afrikaans speaking people, which may unfortunately polarise the position of Afrikaans in South Africa even further.

 He argues that, given the time that we are in, the second approach will deliver more constructive results as language can among others be used for to further  democracy in South Africa.   This can happen by cooperation in the institutionalising of multilingualism in our society.  The more languages are used in education, law and government administration, the more we can be assured a successful democracy.

 The Routes colloquium was facilitated by the well-known Flemish radio journalist, Jean-Pierre Rondas. About twenty South African and Flemish language specialists took part in the colloquium.  Dr Fritz Kok, outgoing chief executive officer of the ATKV took part in the opening ceremony and Dr Neville Alexander from the University of Cape Town and well-known activist for multilingualism in South Africa was also one of the main speakers.

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