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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

Universal Access and Universal Design approach align UFS with international standards
2015-08-11

Making mobility for students with disabilities easier, First Car Rental representatives hand over the brand new Toyota Quantum to Hestie Veitch, Head of CUADS.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) launched successfully on 24 July 2015. The objective was “to make more people on campus and from the greater UFS community aware of the services that we provide, and to spread the word about Universal Access.”

“Since the center was founded in 2001, structural and systematic developments have occurred in order to create a welcoming and accessible learning environment that grants students opportunities to be successful in their academic endeavours. Thus, the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) has evolved into the CUADS in support of the social model of disability,” said Hetsie Veitch, former Head of the Centre.

Implementing the Universal Access and Universal Design approach has aligned the University of the Free State (UFS) with international standards.

Mingling with the experts

Vendors from across the country displayed their products, and offered demonstrations of functional gadgets and essentials at the event.

Marita Erlank from Sensory Solutions demonstrated how to operate the specialised scanner, which converts printed material to enlarged electronic text and audio, using the Open Book software.

Representing the university’s Sign Language Student Association were Carla Bester, Elrie de Toit and Tebogo Chabangu. To support Deaf Awareness Month (September), theyplan to dedicate a weekto facilitating free workshops for students not registered for the module.

David Greenland and his teamwere also present as part of a Wheelchair Appreciation Month campaign. On 1 September2015,the group of students will raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by mobility-impaired persons by spending the day in wheelchairs.

The day ended on a festive note, by courtesy of the First Car Hire Rental Company. A brand-new Toyota Quantum was handed over as a long-term rental, enabling students of the university to travel between campuses free of charge.

CUADS aims to continue transforming the UFS into a universally-accessible environment by collaborating with internal and external stakeholders. The launch marks a significant step towards Universal Access and Design.

 

 

 

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