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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

Water Collection Campaign distributes 3 500 bottles in Free State
2016-02-19

 Description: KL News 2016 02 19 Water Tags: KL News 2016 02 19 Water
The Muslim Students Association (MSA), along with the Gift of the Givers Foundation, collected 3 500 5l bottles of water that was distributed to disadvantaged areas within the Free State. From left is Muhammed Bhamjee, President of MSA, Emily Thomas, project manager for Gift of the Givers Foundation, and Grace Jansen, one of the generous donors. Photo: Charl Devenish.

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of the Free State (UFS) took it upon themselves to respond to the regional water crisis being experienced in the Free State. Under the leadership of Muhammed Bhamjee, President of MSA, the association started an initiative to collect water for the purpose of distributing it to disadvantaged areas within the Free State.

The drive started out as just a humble request within the student community, but it gained a great deal of attention from staff, departments, and students from the UFS. The response was overwhelming; 3 500 5l bottles of water were donated.

Amongst the donors were the Student Affairs department and Grace Jansen, wife of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS. Mrs Jansen said it was important for her to make a contribution: “Even though we are receiving, we need to give as well. Wherever there is a need, we need to be involved.” She believes the project has the ability to grow and gain more attention and support. She believes it needs to grow across communities to solve such problems together.

Bhamjee explains that the MSA has had a relationship with Gift of the Givers Foundation, as they have been running the campaign for quite some time. “We just felt that it’s our responsibility to get involved. Even with the little we can do, every bit counts at the end of the day.” He added that there is also a need to support fellow students at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus.

Emily Thomas, project manager for Gift of the Givers Foundation, applauds the MSA initiative, and encourages students to continue collaborating with the foundation to assist with disaster situations.

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