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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

New Academic Head at South Campus to expand distance learning programmes into the global arena
2016-02-10

“Critical area of focus: Diversify provision, based on open learning principles, to improve learning opportunities across the post-school education and training sector” - SA Department of Higher Education and Training Strategic Plan 2015/16-2019/20

Open and distance learning (ODL) programmes will play a critical role in shaping the landscape of higher education. Not only does the South African Department of Higher Education and Training emphasise the importance of ODL, it is also contained within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. And now the University of the Free State (UFS) is becoming a major role player in the field through the cutting-edge ODL programmes offered by the South Campus.

Description: Jean Grundling  Tags: Jean Grundling

Jean Grundling has recently been appointed as the Academic Head of the South Campus.

At the helm of these programmes is the recently-appointed Academic Head of the South Campus: Jean Grundling. According to the new organisational structure of the South Campus, the Academic Head reports directly to the Campus Principal: Dr Daniella Coetzee.

“My role,” says Grundling, “focuses on developing and monitoring processes that will enable effective and efficient implementation of the three pillars of ODL.” These three pillars consist of:

• the design and development of quality learner-centred learning materials and tools during their ODL journeys;
• the selection, appointment, and development of competent facilitators to guide, coach, tutor, and support students; and
• the integration of administrative processes that will enable and support students to study at their own pace, place, and in their own time.

“Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

As part of her personal vision, Grundling would like to see the South Campus grow and develop into an institution that offers quality ODL programmes not only nationally, but globally. “I would like the South Campus to become an agent of social transformation in South Africa.”

Ultimately, Grundling’s wish is for the South Campus to contribute to the development and empowerment of people so that they can play a positive role in society.

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