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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

UFS Council adopts guidelines for the development of a new Language Policy
2015-12-04

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) adopted the following guidelines from the report by the Language Committee regarding the development of a new Language Policy for the UFS, based on the core values of inclusivity and multilingualism:

  1. that English becomes the primary medium of instruction in undergraduate education and, as largely exists already, in postgraduate education.
  2. that the UFS embeds and enables a language-rich environment committed to multilingualism, with particular attention to Afrikaans, Sesotho, isiZulu, and other languages represented on the three campuses.
  3. that an expanded tutorial system be available to especially first-year students in Afrikaans, Sesotho, isiZulu and other languages, in order to facilitate the transition to English instruction.
  4. that the parallel-medium policy continues in particular professional programmes, given the well-defined Afrikaans markets that, at the moment, still makes such language-specific graduate preparation relevant.
  5. that the language of administration be English.
  6. that the English-medium language policy be implemented with flexibility and understanding, rather than as a rigid rule disregarding the circumstances.

These guidelines were adopted at the Council meeting which took place on the Bloemfontein Campus on Friday 4 December 2015.

“This important and emotive matter was discussed in a high-quality, open debate and I am satisfied with the way the decision was reached,” says Judge Ian van der Merwe, Chairperson of the UFS Council.

The decision by Council comes after a mandate was given to the University Management on 4 June 2015 to conduct a review of the institutional Language Policy. A Language Committee was subsequently established by the University Management Committee (UMC) to undertake a comprehensive review of the existing parallel-medium policy and to make recommendations on the way forward with respect to the university's Language Policy.

The Language Committee conducted a comprehensive consultation process on the future of the Language Policy with all university stakeholders. This included multiple dialogue and submissions sessions, as well as an opinion poll on all three campuses.

Guided by the Council resolution of 4 December 2015, the UFS management will now proceed to design a Language Policy that would be presented to the UMC and Senate for voting purposes again, which vote would be formally presented to Council at one of its governance meetings in 2016. The Institutional Forum, a statutory body that represents all university stakeholders, would also advise Council at that stage, per its mandate, on the new Language Policy.

In the event that a new Language Policy is accepted by Council in 2016, the earliest possible date for implementation would be January 2017.


Related articles:

http://www.ufs.ac.za/templates/news-archive-item?news=6567 (26 November 2015)
http://www.ufs.ac.za/templates/news-archive-item?news=6540 (28 October 2015)
http://www.ufs.ac.za/templates/news-archive-item?news=6521 (20 October 2015)
http://www.ufs.ac.za/templates/news-archive-item?news=6469 (30 August 2015)
http://www.ufs.ac.za/templates/news-archive-item?news=6444 (25 August 2015)

 

 

 

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