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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

Faculty of Theology hosts annual meeting of Society for Practical Theology
2015-01-30

From the left are: Prof Yolanda Dreyer (Chairperson of SPTSA, University of Pretoria), Prof Johann Rossouw (UFS), Prof Hussein Solomon (UFS) and Prof Johan Cilliers (Stellenbosch University).
Photo: Michelle Nothling

The privilege of hosting the annual meeting of the Society for Practical Theology in South Africa (SPTSA) fell to the University of the Free State (UFS) this year. Delegates from across the country recently convened on the Bloemfontein Campus to attend the event from 21 – 23 January 2015.

The three-day congress saw several high-profile keynote speakers discussing the topic of ‘Power of religion and religions of power’.

Dr Johann Rossouw from the UFS Department of Philosophy presented a paper on ‘Power, the state and the church in South Africa’. Dr Rossouw regards the cooperation between theologians and philosophers as integral to help us understand the time we live in. Twenty years since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, “the gap between the country we were promised and the country we received is bigger than ever,” Dr Rossouw said. “A South-African Church … cannot but make her voice heard regarding this gap.”

Expert on conflict resolution and fundamentalism, Prof Hussein Solomon from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance scrutinised the compatibility of Islam with democracy. He warned, though, against “the labelling of a conflict as religious on the mere basis of its religious overtones.” Prof Solomon’s paper, ‘Political Islam: trends, trajectory and future prospects,’ not only advocated tolerance and political pluralism, but also pointed to the fact that it is “in the common good of all humanity” to avert a “Clash of Civilizations”.

‘God in granite?’ – Prof Johan Cilliers’ paper – investigated the phenomenon of the monumentalization of religion. Prof Cilliers from Stellenbosch University explained that monuments often have “spiritual character and iconic value, in the sense that it offers a space for the formation or discovery of meaning.” In his presentation he showed, though, that monuments – even those connected to religious motifs – “seldom escape the lure of power”.

The event was organised by the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Theology, Department of Practical Theology.

  

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za .

 

 

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