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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

Colloquium probes solutions for student hunger
2015-08-03

While higher education is deemed necessary for future financial security, high tuition and accommodation fees, as well as increasing food prices, are forcing students to drop out of university.

Dr Louise van den Berg, Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the University of the Free State (UFS), says university campuses are not often associated with food insecurity, but, due to the increase in first-generation students and students of low-income households receiving tertiary education, student hunger at some of the country’s prominent campuses needs urgent intervention.

On 14 August 2015, the University of the Free State (UFS) will host the first higher education colloquium in the country, on food insecurity on university campuses.  Best practices will be shared, exploring the available research on student food insecurity at institutions of higher education. Programme of the colloquium.

A study by the UFS Department of Nutrition and Dietetics found that as many as 60% of students on our campuses were food-insecure, and experienced hunger. This study was the first of its kind in South Africa, and led to the No Student Hungry Bursary Programme (NSH) at the UFS. The level of severe food insecurity reported was much higher than that reported in Australia, New York, and Hawaii by the only other three studies that have been done.

“The UFS is not the only campus struggling with food insecurity,” say Dr Van den Bergh.

“The general misconception is that a student, having money for studies, should have money for food. Funders need to reassess bursaries, keeping issues such as food insecurity in mind, and not just focusing on tuition.”

Bursaries, especially government funding, became easily available to bridge the inequality gap in our country.

“Although bursaries pay for tuition, many students have no resources for food. Universities currently have a 50% drop-out rate currently, with many students dropping out due to poverty.”

 

What is NSH?

 

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