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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

Charity indeed begins at home
2016-02-19

Description: KL News 2016 02 19 Rag Queen Tags: KL News 2016 02 19 Rag Queen
The winning duo: Stefan Lotter and Marzel van Zyl after being crowned Mr RAG and RAG Queen at the Brutal Fruit Coronation Ball. Photo: Sarel Greyling

Stefan Lotter and Marzel van Zyl were crowned Mr RAG and RAG Queen at the prestigious Brutal Fruit RAG Coronation Ball on 12 February 2016. For the last 10 months, these University of the Free State (UFS) students have been collecting funds for community projects in the Free State.

Capitalise on existing platforms

Although they are patrons of charitable organisations external to the university, Stefan and Marzel revised their strategy to prioritise the UFS. “Some students on campus struggle, and, because charity begins at home, we will try to help the No Student Hungry and Right to Learn campaigns,” said Stefan.

However, he will continue to support the Northern Free State Caregivers, a 24-hour nursing service for terminally ill patients, for which he collected R15 000. For her part, Marzel was able to collect more than R20 000 for the Free State Residential Care Centre, which houses mentally challenged adults, and also hosts a skills development programme. The Centre’s baking workshop had to discontinue due to a lack of funding, but Marzel hopes that her contributions will bring about its revival and sustenance.

Bringing home the money

The winning duo are expected to represent our university at Mr & Miss SA Campus South Africa 2016.  According to Stefan, they plan “to push the RAG agenda there and bring money back home,” at this charity-based pageant.

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