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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

Shack study holds research and social upliftment opportunities
2015-02-10

Photo: Stephen Collett

When Prof Basie Verster, retired head of the Department of Quantity Surveying at the University of the Free State (UFS), initiated an alternative form of housing for Johannes - one of his employees - a decision was made to base research on this initiative. This research project in Grasslands, Heidedal focused on the cost and energy efficiency of green and/or sustainable shacks.

Esti Jacobs from the Department of Quantity Surveying, together with an honours student in Quantity Surveying, a master’s student in Architecture, and young professionals at Verster Berry, helped with the project.

The physical goals of the project were to create a structure that is environmentally friendly, and maintains a comfortable interior climate in winter and summer, as well as being cost-effective to erect. The structure also had to be socially acceptable to the family and the community.

“The intention was to make a positive contribution to the community and to initiate social upliftment through this project. Structures such as the ‘green shack’ may serve as an intermediate step to future housing possibilities, since these structures are relatively primitive, but have economic value and could be marketable,” she said.

Esti explains the structure of the building, which consists of gum poles and South African pine bearers, with a timber roof and internal cement block flooring. The building is clad with corrugated iron and has a corrugated iron roof finish. Additional green elements added to the structure were internal Nutec cladding, glasswool insulation in walls, internal gypsum ceiling boards with ‘Think Pink’ insulation, internal dividing wall and door, polystyrene in the floors, and tint on the windows. A small solar panel for limited electricity use (one or two lights and electricity to charge a cellphone) and a Jojo water tank for household consumption by the inhabitants were also installed.

Esti said: “Phase one of the research has been completed. This phase consisted of an investigation into the cost of an alternative form of housing structure (comparing traditional shacks with the planned structure) as well as the construction process of the physical housing structure.

“Phase two of the research, commencing in February 2015, will last for two to three years. This phase will include the installation of temperature and relative humidity logging devices inside the existing traditional shack and the new green shack. The logs will be regularly monitored by the UFS Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management.

These data will enable the researchers to measure the differences in comfort levels inside the two different structures. The data, together with other information such as building materials and methods, are then processed by software programs. Through the simulation of different environments, building materials, and alternate forms of energy, software models can be used to come up with conclusions regarding more energy-friendly building materials and methods. This knowledge can be used to improve comfort levels within smaller, low-cost housing units.

The UFS will be working with Prof Jeff Ramsdell of the Appalachian State University in the USA and his team on the second phase of the project.

“This research project is ongoing and will be completed only in a few years’ time,” said Esti.

The results of the research will be published in accredited journals or at international conferences.

 

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

 

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