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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

2015 Spring Graduation Ceremony rekindles spirit of Ubuntu
2015-09-22

 

Our graduates: A new generation of future leaders
to advance South Africa

 -  Video: Spring Graduation Ceremony

“Give away your love, attention, care and more.” These words of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), capture the spirit of the 2015 Spring Graduation Ceremony that took place on Thursday 17 September 2015.

On this special day, 599 diplomas and degrees were conferred from the faculties of the Humanities, Education, Law, Theology, Economic and Management -, Health -, and Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Central to both the morning and afternoon ceremonies was the message of Ubuntu.

The essence of humanity

“Here is my advice to you,” Prof Jansen said to the graduates, “whatever you have, give it away. Give away your love, attention, care and more.” Prof Jeffrey Sachs, guest speaker at both events, supported this message by saying that the essence of humanity is the cornerstone to success. Prof Sachs, a prominent American economist and humanitarian, asked graduates to use their hard-earned knowledge wisely, fairly and boldly. “You are the wealth of South Africa, for your knowledge is the key to SA’s prosperity.”

The UFS Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences honoured Prof Sachs by conferring an honorary doctorate on him. With this prestigious conferral, the faculty acknowledges Prof Sach’s extensive work in sustainable economic, social and political development across the globe. Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the UFS, commended Prof Sachs for his compassion and passion for humanity. “I’m truly inspired that you agreed to associate yourself with this institution. We are proud to be associated with your excellence,” Dr Mokhele said.

Celebrating the extraordinary

One of many highlights of the day was when Leanne Kunz and Karabo Motlhakoana walked across the stage to respectively receive their Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and a BSc degree in Information Technology.

Kunz has been compiling news bulletins for The Breakfast Special show, aired on the OFM radio station, for five years. This Kovsie Alumnus graduated with a Media Studies degree a few years ago. Kunz did not allow her successful career at the popular radio station to hinder her studying further, though. Neither has Motlhakoana’s physical challenges.

While everyone else used their hands to take notes, Motlhakoana used his foot. Despite being born with no arms, he was able to beat the odds by qualifying as a computer scientist. Motlhakoana was also involved in the Leadership for Change programme in 2011 which contributed to producing the well-rounded graduate he is today. When walking across the stage, “I felt like I achieved something that gave me a challenge,” he said.

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