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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

Einstein's gravitational waves as creative as Bach's music, says UFS physicist
2016-02-19

Description: Gravitational waves  Tags: Gravitational waves

Profile of the gravitational waves of the colliding black holes.

Prof Pieter Meintjes, Affiliated Researcher in the Department of Physics at the University of the Free State, welcomed the work done by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) science team.
 
For the first time, researchers from two of the American Ligo centres, in Washington and Louisiana respectively, observed gravitational waves directly, 100 years after Albert Einstein said they existed. "My study field in astrophysics involves relativistic systems. Therefore, Einstein's view of gravity is crucial to me. I consider the theory as the highest form of human creativity - just like the music of JS Bach. Over the past 100 years, the theory has been tested through various experiments and in different ways.
 
“The discovery of gravitational waves was the last hurdle to overcome in making this absolutely unfaltering. I am therefore thrilled by the discovery. It is absolutely astounding to imagine that the equations used to make the predictions about the gravitational-wave emissions when two gravitational whirlpools collide - as discovered on 14 September 2015 by LIGO - are basically Einstein's original equations that were published way back in 1916 - in other words, 100 years ago.
 
“The LIGO detectors have been operational since the early 1990s, but they had to undergo several stages of upgrades before being sensitive enough to make detections. LIGO is currently in its final stage, and is expected to function at optimal sensitivity only within a year or two. To be able to conduct the measurements at this stage is therefore a fantastic achievement, since much more funding will certainly be deposited in the project,” Prof Meintjes says.

Description: Prof Pieter Meintjes Tags: Prof Pieter Meintjes

Prof Pieter Meintjes
Photo: Charl Devenish

The search for gravitational waves by means of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is one of the focus points in research by both Prof Meintjes and PhD student, Jacques Maritz. This involves the study of radio signals from pulsars that might show signs of effects by gravitational waves. They are looking for signs of gravitational waves. The gravitational waves discovered and studied in this manner would naturally vary much more slowly than the signal discovered from the two colliding gravitational waves.
 
The discovery will definitely provide renewed impetus to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project to use the dispersion of pulsar signals, and to search for the impact of gravitational waves on signals as they travel through the universe. According to Prof Meintjes, the SKA will definitely contribute fundamentally to the Frontier research, which will provide a good deal of publicity for the UFS and South Africa, if significant contributions are made by local researchers in this field.

Video clip explaining gravitational waves

 

  • The Department of Physics will present a general, non-technical talk concerning the recent detection of gravitational waves by the 2 Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatories (LIGO):

Wednesday 24 February 2016
11:00-12:00
New lecture auditorium, Department of Physics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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