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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 releases draft charter to accelerate transformation
2007-02-02

The University of the Free State (UFS) today released a draft Institutional Charter which is intended to enhance and accelerate the ongoing transformation of the institution towards a non-racial, non-sexist future.

Speaking at the official opening of the university today, the Rector and Vice-chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, said the draft Institutional Charter, was an important milestone in the transformation debate for the university and the country.

“The draft charter acknowledges that black people, women and people with disabilities have been marginalised from job and developmental opportunities, within the higher education sector and at this university,” Prof Fourie said.

The charter commits the university to meeting the challenges of a transforming higher education institution in a developing society, in particular the challenges of nation-building, reconciliation, redress, non-racialism and non-sexism – and ultimately normalisation – within a high-quality academic institution.

The principles of the draft charter firmly signal the university’s commitment to diversity – attaining and maintaining substantive and sufficient diversity (including multiculturalism and multilingualism) – in its quest for quality and excellence. 
Prof Fourie said the draft charter seeks to build consensus among staff and students at the UFS about the ultimate goals of transformation at a higher education institution.

The charter proposes several basic values and principles that should guide the transformation process and at the same time serve as a basis for a future, normalised university - a promised land to transform towards.

The discussion document says academic quality is intrinsically linked to transformation and it commits the university to strengthening the core competencies of research, teaching and learning as well as community service so as to ensure a robust university for future generations.

“Indeed the thousands of matriculants, black and white, who apply to study at the UFS want to study at a good university, and a good university wants to attract the best black and white students and the best black and white staff, male and female,“ Prof Fourie said.

He said the draft charter also seeks to safeguard academic freedom and institutional autonomy as the foundation of critical inquiry and scholarship.

Regarding the critical issue of creating a new institutional culture, the draft charter commits the UFS to creating a sense of belonging for all members of the university – black and white, male and female, of whatever language, religious, cultural or economic background, as well as people with disabilities.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:  (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl@mail.uovs.ac.za
02 February 2007

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