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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 celebrates research excellence
2016-02-25

Description: UFS celebrates research excellence Tags: UFS celebrates research excellence

Researchers at the university were acknowledged for their new research ratings. From the left are: Prof Johann de Wet, Department of Communication Sciences; Prof Naomi Morgan, Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French; Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research; Prof André Pelser, Department of Sociology; Dr Trudi O’Neill, Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology; and Prof Riaz Seedat, Department Otorhinolaryngology.

During a recent gala occasion, the University of the Free State (UFS) acknowledged 15 of its researchers who received new ratings from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

According to Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS, 37 applications have already been received for the next round of ratings by the NRF. In recent years, the university has experienced an increase in the rating of its researchers as the result of raised academic standards. These are in line with the Academic Project of the UFS. The UFS has 125 rated researchers in total.

The 15 recipients of new ratings from the NRF in 2015,are:

- Dr Tanya Beelders, Computer Science: Y2
- Dr Andrew Cohen, History: Y1
- Prof Pieter de Villiers, Theology: C2
- Prof Johann de Wet, Communication: C3
- Dr Angelinus Franke, Agriculture: C2
- Prof Jonathan Jansen, Education: B1
- Prof Riaan Luyt, Chemistry: B3
- Prof Naomi Morgan, Linguistics: C2
- Dr Trudi O’Neill, Microbiology: C1
- Prof André Pelser, Sociology: C3
- Dr Johann Rossouw, Philosophy: C2
- Prof Riaz Seedat, Health: C3
- Dr Jakub Urbaniak, Theology: Y2
- Dr Martin van Zyl, Mathematics: C3
- Prof Sue Walker, Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences: C1

The UFS also celebrated its five SARChI research chairs during this event. The main goal of the research chairs is to promote research excellence.

The five research chairs at the UFS are all established at Tier 1. Research chairs in the Tier 1 category are based on the researcher's research track record, as well as on the training record of his/her postgraduate and postdoctoral students.  Tier 1 research chairs are awarded to established researchers who are leaders in their field, and whose work is recognised internationally.

The following research chairs have been awarded to the UFS since 2013:

- Solid State Luminescent and Advanced Materials, Prof Hendrik Swart in the Department of Physics (2013-2017)
- Disease Resistance and Quality in Field Crops, Prof Maryke Labuschagne (2016-2020)
- Higher Education and Human Development, Prof Melanie Walker (2013-2017)
- Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Pathogens, Prof Felicity Burt (2016-2020)
- Humanities without Borders: Trauma, History and Memory (2016-2020) 

 

 

 

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