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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

Researcher in Plant Breeding one of nine women on the African continent to receive acknowledgement for work in food security
2015-08-04

 
 Prof Maryke Labuschagne

Prof Maryke Labuschagne, Plant Breeding researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), is one of only nine women on the African continent to receive the prestigious ‘Country Lifetime Achiever Award’ from Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Programme (MIW) this year.

During a breakfast event, CEO Communications recognised the Most Influential Women in SADC South who are Building Nations. The event took place at the Vodacom Dome in Midrand on 28 July 2015.

She received the award for her commitment and continuous contributions to food security. “I am concerned about this. We need to develop people who can go into Africa to work together for food security on the continent,” says Prof Labuschagne.

Prof Labuschagne
and her students’ research focuses on the genetic improvement of food security crops in Africa, including such staples as maize and cassava. “These crops are genetically improved for yield, drought tolerance, disease, and insect resistance, as well nutritional value.”

“Food security is one of the key factors for stability and prosperity on the continent,” she says.

Apart from the fact that her research is helping to provide food for thousands of people on the continent, she is also an NRF-rated researcher, and author or co-author of over 160 articles in accredited journals.

This is not the firstaward that Prof Labuschagne has received for her work. In 2008, she was chosen as the National Agriculturalist of the Year by the Agricultural Writers Association of South Africa. In 2012, she received the Researcher of the Year award from Grain South Africa, as well as the African Union’s Kwame Nkrumah Science Award for Life Sciences on the continent. 

The Country Lifetime Achiever Award is a prestigious award that recognises and honours the lifelong efforts, achievements, and contributions by individuals in their local communities. This recognition covers all sectors and countries, to create a platform where the work and involvement of extraordinary people can be displayed and noted.

About the award, Prof Labuschagne says: “It is always great to be recognised for your work.”

Elana Meyer (athlete) and Thuli Madonsela (Public Protector and advocate) have also received awards from the programme this year.

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