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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

Varsity Cup rugby match between FNB Shimlas and FNB NMMU Madibaz disrupted
2016-02-21

State of our campuses #7

The Varsity Cup match between the FNB Shimlas and FNB NMMU Madibaz, which took place on 22 February 2016 at Xerox Shimla Park on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS), was interrupted in the 17th minute when a group of protesters moved onto the field to disrupt the game, which was already in progress.
 
The rugby players of both teams, as well as the match officials, immediately cleared the field as the protesters moved across the field towards the halfway line. Members of the UFS Protection Services gathered around the protesters, but were outnumbered. After a few minutes, spectators ran onto the field. The protesters were chased off the field and beaten by the spectators. Injured persons were treated by medical personnel. It is clear at this time that both the protesting group and the spectators included non-students in their ranks.
 
The senior leadership of the UFS condemns in the strongest terms possible the violence against the protesters; nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands. An urgent investigation is underway, using footage from the event, and no stone will be left unturned to identify those who acted violently, whether students or not.


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