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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

Tough future if nothing changes in Africa
2015-02-20

 

The Department of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS recently hosted a workshop with the Osaka School for International Public Policy and the Southern African Centre for Collaboration in Peace and Security Studies.

The workshop, which was held on Thursday 12 February, had the theme of Perspectives on African Peace and Security. During workshop sessions, thoughts and views on peace and security were discussed for both African and South African circumstances. This was the fourth year of this joint workshop at the UFS.

Prof Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS shared some notes:

“In terms of South Africa, the fact that only 11% of South Africans have a post-school education holds negative prospects for us attaining a so-called ‘knowledge economy’”, says Prof Solomon.

“This also means that unemployment will continue to remain high since, in certain key areas, the South African economy is quite sophisticated, and needs a sophisticated labour force. Therefore, high unemployment translates into further social unrest, especially if one considers that youth unemployment is approaching 50%.”
 
Moving to broader issues in Africa, Solomon states that governance remains a challenge.

“There is a need to move away from Eurocentric forms of governance to more hybrid forms, implementing a mix of western forms of governance alongside more traditional forms.”

“Otherwise, the probability of conflict remains high as we look into the future. The possibility of water wars between African states is distinct.”

“Terrorism too will be with us for some time to come, with three terrorist attacks per day in Africa. Making matters worse, whether it is conflict over water or terrorist atrocities, is the African Union’s inability to resolve these issues. It simply does not have the capacity”, says Solomon.

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