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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

University of Vermont bestows honorary doctorate upon Prof Jansen
2014-05-30

 
Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Jonathan Jansen, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Vermont (UVM). This special event took place on 18 May 2014 at a graduation ceremony in Vermont, USA.

Prof Jansen was honoured for the outstanding work he has done through various initiatives in South Africa and abroad. The University of Vermont especially highlighted the Leadership for Change programme, which sent two cohorts of first- year students from the UFS to UVM. This resulted in long-lasting ties between the students and staff of both institutions. "I am delighted and humbled by the international recognition for the work of the UFS and my small role in it," Prof Jansen said.

Prof Jansen was one of seven recipients of an honorary degree. One of these recipients was Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

The UVM honorary doctorate citation reads, “Jonathan David Jansen is a leading public intellectual in South Africa renowned for his passionate dedication to education, social justice and the process of reconciliation. As Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), his leadership and his pioneering work is creating unity in the diverse academic community and transforming the atmosphere on campus. As an international expert, a leader in higher education, a scholar and a teacher, Professor Jansen works to inspire and educate the next generation of global leaders.”

In 2010 Prof Jansen received an honorary doctorate in Education from the Cleveland State University, also in the USA.

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