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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

National Department of Health invests R53.5 million in UFS laboratory
2016-02-04

Description: Dr Derek Litthauer Tags: Dr Derek Litthauer

Dr Derek Litthauer
Photo: Supplied

This year has started off on a high note for Dr Derek Litthauer and his team at the South African National Control Laboratory (NCL) for Biological Products. The National Department of Health has awarded the NCL a contract to the value of R53.5 million to continue testing vaccines for the next three years.

Vaccines are biological medicines used to ensure healthy populations by preventing many diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, worldwide, about 5.2 million children under six years old die annually. Of these deaths, 29% are vaccine preventable. Research has revealed that vaccines prevent about 6 million deaths each year globally. Safe and effective vaccines are essential public health tools, which are strictly regulated internationally. It is the NCL’s responsibility to perform quality control testing on all vaccines to be used on humans in South Africa.

This laboratory, the only one of its kind in Africa, receives samples of vaccines from manufacturers and importers for rigorous evaluation and testing. No vaccine may be used in South Africa without a release certificate issued by the Control Lab, certifying that the vaccine is suitable for human use.

The contract is a commitment to ensuring that only vaccines of the highest quality are used in South Africa.

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