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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

Many changes for Shimlas, says new captain
2016-01-25

 Description: 2016 Shimla Neil Claassen Tags: 2016 Shimla Neil Claassen
The versatile forward, Neil Claassen, will lead the Shimlas onto the field in the 2016 Varsity Cup. Photo: Johan Roux.

The University of the Free State (UFS) has a new group of rugby players, a new head coach, and a new captain.

This is how the Shimla skipper, Neil Claassen, summed up his team's approach to the 2016 Varsity Cup.

Although the UFS will start the tournament as defending champions, the 23-year-old Claassen believes that much has changed since 2015.

One of which is his appointment. The flanker, who can play lock as well, was recently appointed as Varsity Cup captain in his third series.

The former Springbok flanker, Hendro Scholtz, took over as head coach from Franco Smith, who is now the Cheetahs trainer. Mac Masina, former centre for the Lions, is a new assistant coach.

New year with more pressure

Because of all the changes, Claassen feels that the Shimlas will need a different approach to the 2016 tournament.

“There will definitely be more attention on us (as champions). However, the guys in the camp see it as a new year,” he said.

“There is pressure, but we don't focus on that too much.”

Previous leaders set example

According to Claassen, he has never before led a team for which he played.

“I didn't expect to be captain,” the former pupil of Paarl Gymnasium said.

“This is something new. I have played with good leaders like AJ (Coertzen) and Oupa (Mohoje) before, and will take forward what I have learned from them.”

He also believes that there are several senior players, such as the vice-captain, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, who will assist him in his leadership role.

Back from injury

Claassen has played Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup, U21 and U19 rugby for the Free State.

However, a knee injury kept him out of action for nine months and he missed the last three Varsity Cup matches of 2015.

He returned for a training match against the University of Johannesburg in Kroonstad on 23 January 2016. The Shimlas also played a warm-up match against the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Bethlehem on 16 January 2016.

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