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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

A degree means nothing if you are not a decent human being, Vice-Chancellor tells first-years
2016-02-01

Description: Qwaqwa first-year welcoming 2016 Tags: Qwaqwa Campus

The 2016 Qwaqwa Campus first-year students received one of the warmest welcomes when the entire Rectorate and other senior UFS officials arrived to welcome them.

Leading the delegation was the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, whose captivating message was well received by students and those parents who were in attendance.

“What keeps me going is your determination to come to the University of the Free State to start your life. You have done the right thing; do not forget that you are smarter than you think,” said Prof Jansen.

“Each one of you has a story to tell. You had to overcome poverty, disadvantage and abuse,” he said.

Prof Jansen encouraged first-year students to do more than just obtain a degree whilst at the university.

“This university is good not only in ensuring you get the best qualifications. Graduating and continuing to disrespect women is not good enough. Graduating and still continuing to be biased against gay people is not good enough. Getting a degree and still thinking you are better than others just because you have money is not good enough. A degree means nothing if you are not a decent human being,” he added.

In his welcoming message, the SRC President, Paseka Sikhosana, highlighted the importance of academic excellence that is backed by human embrace.

“Human embrace and academic excellence are two very important aspects that we strive for. Five of our members will be graduating this year whilst six are Golden Key members. And we have a very huge task of bringing our campus closer to the community and the community closer to our campus in an attempt to make a difference in those communities,” he said.

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