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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

First-years at South Campus step into a bright future
2015-02-05

Photo: Stefan Lotter

This is the first step to a bright future.

This was the resounding message that welcomed first-year students to the South Campus. “Remember,” Tshegofatso Setilo, Manager of the University Preparation Programme said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” But please do not get discouraged on your way, she urged, because “this is your first step to a bright future.

In his welcoming message, Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS referred to the South Campus as the giant of the south. “This is one of the trailblazing campuses of the university,” he said. “No doubt what you’ll experience on this campus, you’ll never forget.”

This year, the South Campus boasts with 1 200 first-year students taking part in our University Preparation and Extended Programmes. These programmes allow students – whose matric marks did not reach the required total – the opportunity to study at the University of the Free State (UFS). The result? An astounding rise in pass rates. Some of the students on the South Campus outperform their peers studying at the Bloemfontein Campus, Prof Morgan remarked.

“You’ve got it in yourself. You’ve got the potential to unleash yourself on the world,” Prof Morgan said. You do not always realise the value of something that has come your way, he said. So, every moment you get an opportunity, he advised, use it to shape your future.

Addressing the newcomers’ fears, Prof Morgan urged each student to open themselves to the good and new experiences waiting for them. “When you find yourself in a new space, it always begins with you,” he said. Learn to understand how to live in harmony in different spaces.

Prof Morgan placed great emphasis on his closing remark: “At university, the more questions you seek to have answered – they’re worth more than the answers you have.”

 

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