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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

Students have a responsibility in SA, says Ntuli
2016-02-19

Description: 2016 SRC presidents Tags: 2016 SRC presidents

Lindokuhle Ntuli (left), President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS), and Paseka Sikhosana, president of the SRC on the Qwaqwa Campus, are in agreement about their vision for the UFS in 2016.
Photo: Johan Roux

You and I have a role to play in building the new South Africa built upon the Constitution of 1996.

These are the words of Lindokuhle Ntuli, President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). They echo his and the SRC’s message of a “campus for all students, locally and internationally, irrespective of colour.”

Ntuli and Paseka Sikhosana, president of the SRC on the Qwaqwa Campus, were in agreement about their vision for the UFS in 2016.

According to Sikhosana, a well-known slogan accentuates a feeling of uniqueness at the university. “United in diversity. No wonder we say only a Kovsie knows a feeling,” he says.

“As the SRC, we believe that complete transformation on campus is through promoting a non-sexist, non-racial, but democratic student society that acknowledges diversity and change. That further promotes and embraces one student’s difference in terms of culture, tradition, religion, and sexual orientation.”

A new South Africa

Ntuli means students have a responsibility. He referred to a quotation from Frantz Fanon’s book, The Wretched of the Earth, to illustrate this. Fanon was a revolutionary and writer whose works are influential in post-colonial studies. “Every generation has a mission. It is the responsibility of every generation to discover its mission. Once you have discovered it, you have to fulfil it or betray it into relative obscurity,” Ntuli quoted.

According to him, the South African Constitution holds pious promises of a better life for all, and each citizen needs to help to achieve that.

SRC has open door policy 

Ntuli says the UFS remains committed to human embrace, diversity, integration, and human togetherness. He added that the SRC has an open door policy, and will avail itself in helping students.

According to Sikhosana, it is the objective of the SRC to represent the student community in all interactions within the university and externally.

“There is nothing for us, about us, without us students,” he says.

• The above excerpts have been taken from Ntuli and Sikhosana’s respective welcoming speeches to first-year students on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses.

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