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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 takes further steps to address load shedding
2015-02-24

The South African economy is experiencing its worst electricity crisis since 2008, with state power firm Eskom implementing load shedding as it struggles to meet growing demand for power.

The University of the Free State (UFS) has been planning and implementing projects to reduce the impact of load shedding since 2008. This was done primarily to ensure that the academic programme does not suffer as a result of the increasing cuts in power supply, which continued this year.

The university’s main concern is the supply of emergency power to lecture halls and laboratories.

Up to date, 35 generators are serving 55 buildings on the three campuses of the UFS. This includes 26 generators on the Bloemfontein Campus, eight on the Qwaqwa Campus in the Eastern Free State and one generator on the South Campus in Bloemfontein. The generators are serviced regularly and kept in a working condition.

Since 2010, the university has also ensured that all new academic buildings being built were equipped with emergency power.

On the South Campus in Bloemfontein the new lecture hall building and the Computer Laboratory are equipped with emergency power, while the installation of emergency power generators in other buildings is underway. Most of the buildings on the Qwaqwa Campus in the Eastern Free State are provided with emergency power.

“To expand on the work that have already been done, the main objective in the installation of more generators on the Bloemfontein Campus will be to ensure that lecture halls with emergency power are available on the centrally booked timetables and that more of the critical laboratories are equipped with emergency power,” said Mr Nico Janse van Rensburg, Senior Director: University Estates.

“There are still some critical buildings and venues on the Bloemfontein Campus that must be equipped with emergency power. However, this is a costly process and will have to be phased in over a period of time. The further implementation of emergency power is dependent on delivery times of equipment. The university is also looking into alternative power supply solutions, such as solar power,” he said.

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